Internet Basics for ESL Students
Lesson 12
Ethics and Privacy


Keywords: database, encryption, cookie, hacker, cracker, censorship,

Dialogue 1: Want a cookie?

Electronic Frontier Foundation

Pair work. Practice the conversation.

Paul: When you are using the World Wide Web some companies are building databases of information about you.
Jim: Why are they doing that?
Paul: Most want to help you find information about their company.
Jim: How does my computer give them information?
Paul: Each time you visit one of these company's web sites it puts data in a special file called a cookie in your browser's directory.

Reading: How safe is Email?
If you write an Email to a friend or co-worker, how safe is it? A standard Email is about as safe as a postcard in regular mail. An experienced computer user could find a way to read it as it passes through a mail server. Never send your private messages or company information over the Internet unless it has been encrypted.

Group discussion:

  1. If you send Email to a friend, should anyone be able to read it?
  2. Should a government be able to read all its citizens Email?
  3. If a picture is legal in one country but illegal in another, should it be banned from the Internet?

Dialogue 2: Pretty Good Privacy

Pair work. Practice the conversation.

Jim: Hi Linda. What are you doing?
Linda: I'm trying to learn how to use PGP (Pretty Good Privacy).
Jim: What's that?
Linda: It's software that encrypts your data so you can send it over the Internet safely.
Jim: Why do you want to do that?
Linda: I want to send my boss the latest company financial reports by Email, but I don't want anyone else reading them.

Gold Key Campaign

Match the word with the definition:

encryption a person who enjoys writing computer code
cookieencoding a file to keep it safe
hackera person who breaks into computer systems
crackera file used to store information

Group work:
Make a list of good things computers contribute to society:
For example: Computers make flying airplanes safer.

Make a list of problems computers can cause:
For example: Using computers means less direct person to person contact.

Discuss your list with your partner and the group.

Dialogue 3: Censorship

Digital Future Coalition

Pair work. Practice the conversation.

Jim: Did you know that hate groups like the neo-Nazis are using the Internet to spread information?
Linda: Yeah, I heard about it. The German government was asking web servers all over the world to censor those pages.
Jim: Censoring free speech can't be done in countries like the US.
Linda: If people don't want to read the page they shouldn't go to it.
Jim: It's more important for people to put up pages with opposing views.


  1. Take a practice test.
  2. Hangman

This is a sub-page of Internet Basics for ESL Students
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Copyright (C) 1998 by Jim Schweizer (