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 My Fall 2020 Externship with the Common Sense Media Privacy Program, or How to Keep on Growing Practical Skills in the Times of the COVID-19 Pandemic

written by Alyona Eidinger

Jill Bronfman | January 13, 2021

When I started law school, I could not have anticipated that nearly half of my legal learning would be happening 100% online. Yet, here we are: it’s 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has been raging without a sign of loosening its grip, and many law students, like me, have been thrown into the new reality of distance learning and remote internships.

Unlike many employers that postponed or entirely canceled legal internships/externships in 2020, Common Sense Media Privacy Program welcomed me as its privacy extern in August. Despite the remote nature of the externship, becoming part of the Privacy Program team resulted in a rewarding learning experience.

It was inspiring to watch the advocacy work that Common Sense Media and its Privacy Program team are doing.  

Here are some specific examples of what I worked on during my externship.

-Researched and wrote a section on the current legal framework regulating voice-activated smart speakers, like Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Home, for the paper that was submitted to the Future of Privacy Forum’s 2020 Privacy Papers for Policymakers Award.

-Helped prepare a slide deck for ISTE20 Live panel discussing “Top 10 Ways to Tell if Your EdTech App Cares About Privacy.” ISTE, which stands for International Society for Technology in Education, is an annual and one of the world’s most influential EdTech conferences. The panel was featured in the “ISTE20 Live: 5 Questions to Ask about Data Privacy During Remote Learning” article.

-Reviewed and analyzed privacy policies using the Privacy Program’s technology.

-Developed a list of privacy-related topics for future articles.

-Presented at the District Privacy Consortium meetings. 

-Wrote articles about the UK’s Age Appropriate Design Code and Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.

I enjoyed collaborating with the Privacy Program team while expanding my privacy expertise and advocacy skills. And I highly recommend this opportunity to those who want to learn more about privacy and advocacy. The contagious enthusiasm of the team that envelopes you from day one will motivate you to stay alert to the privacy-related developments in the EdTech, Smart Tech and Kids’ Tech spaces. I am grateful to so many people who found the time to guide and mentor me, speak with me about their work, and teach me what good advocacy is truly about.