In the lead-up to Privacy Awareness Week 2013, Australian Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim shares his advice for safeguarding your digital identity.

Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim at computer

Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim guides students through the online Cybersmart Challenge

The last five years has seen an explosion in the use of social networking sites. Add to that the popularity of smart phones, and you have a whole new world of communication. As always, young people are fast to pick up and rely on new technology. This means they may be in constant electronic communication with friends and others, often using a number of smart applications at the same time.

Every sci-fi or action film/TV show since the mid-90s is full of people using technology for good and evil, from the Die Hard 4.0 villain shutting down the entire country by taking electronic control of infrastructure to the current Dr Who using the locator device on an iPhone to track and locate a psychopathic alien.

But what does this electronic networking mean in the real world? And what impact does all this sharing of our personal information have on the way we regard privacy? You probably don’t realise just how many decisions your kids make about their privacy every day. It’s hard to keep track of all the choices that impact on privacy, but you can help your kids to make the best privacy choices, in a way that works for them and for you.

Here are some recommendations from me for protecting privacy online and when using smart devices:

  • Read the privacy policy of the social networking site or app — make sure your kids know what they’re signing up for. You can also tell them that reading the privacy information that is provided may also help control privacy settings.
  • Be careful about what information you give out — have your kids asked themselves what information is really needed or whether they can use a pseudonym?
  • Use the privacy tools available — make sure the anti-virus and anti-spyware software is up-to-date on your home computers and any laptops, and talk to your kids about updating their privacy settings on their social media.
  • Think twice before posting any personal information about yourself or others online — the internet is forever, and once it’s out there, it will always be there. I think it’s useful to encourage your children to think about whether they would like their grandmother, teacher, a potential employer or a future boy/girlfriend to see/read it.

Your kids may not want you telling them what to do with their social media, but if they take this advice they will be taking active steps to protect their privacy, even from you— something that may persuade them to be more aware of how they can protect themselves. And by encouraging them to protect their privacy now, you are helping to safeguard their digital identity into the future.

Privacy Awareness Week runs from 28 April – 4 May 2013.

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One Response to What are you doing to protect your privacy?

  1. Thank you for sharing this. Far too often we overlook basic information on how to improve our security.