February is Data Privacy month. Are you protecting your data online? Are your kids aware of the data they share every day when using apps and social media? Take this short quiz and see how you’re doing. Have your kids take the quiz too! Then learn about your rights as a parent regarding what companies can do with your children’s data.
More and more, we are turning to the internet to conduct everyday activities and transactions. Instead of phone calls, we send text messages. Instead of shopping in stores, we shop online. Instead of sending a photo to someone in e-mail, we share through an app or social media site, like Instagram or Facebook. The list goes on. With so much of our lives lived online, we must be vigilant with how much personal information we share, and how our personal information is protected.
[Quiz brought to you by SingleHop]
[Note for Number 3 on the quiz: give yourself a “1” if you answered YES and a “3” if you answered NO…which should not be many of you as I know that Be Web Smart readers DO enable privacy settings!]
I scored 20. Since I do have a blog (obviously) with my real name attached to it, perhaps that is higher than some of you. But I am also very careful when sharing any personal information such as family photos or location. And I NEVER EVER share my passwords!!
Here are a few tips for protecting your family’s information.
1. Know your family’s rights with COPPA, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.
Apps and websites geared towards children (under age 13), along with general audience sites, are required to seek parental permission before collecting any personal information from a child. Personal information includes: name, address, phone number or email address; their physical whereabouts; photos, videos and audio recordings of the child, and persistent identifiers, like IP addresses.
COPPA is the reason popular social media sites state in their terms of agreement that their service is only for those over the age of thirteen; if they accept those under that age they would be required to go through the steps to be compliant with COPPA. Keep this in mind when your kids want to join Instagram or Snapchat or Vine. When your children want to join a site geared towards kids and tweens, such as Club Penguin or KidzVuz, review the web site first. Most will have a “For Parents” link or other information for parents to learn about the site. Be suspicious of the sites that don’t!
Learn more about COPPA: http://www.onguardonline.gov/articles/0031-protecting-your-childs-privacy-online
2. Disable location services when not needed
It can be useful to have location services available on a mobile device. For example, your phone can’t provide you with driving directions without knowing where you are. While there are certain benefits, there are also certain risks with having your location broadcast far and wide via social media. Go through your list of apps do a quick benefit/risk analysis: does the benefit of sharing my location outweigh the risk?
A nice new feature at least for Apple users is that some apps allow you to use location settings only when the app is open. When you are not using the app, location data isn’t shared with the app. (The app is on a need-to-know basis!)
To review location settings for apps, go to Settings >Privacy > Location Services. Some apps will have the option of allowing location access only while you use the app.
More about location services and location sharing: http://www.bewebsmart.com/tag/location-settings/
3. Review privacy settings on social media sites (important for kids and teens!)
When was the last time you reviewed your privacy settings on Facebook? Have your teens put privacy settings in place on their Instagram accounts? One study found that only 29 percent of online adults are up-to-date on their privacy settings. Luckily that means that about 70% of us DO use privacy settings. But as you know, sites like Facebook like to change the rules without much warning so take a few minutes to make sure your privacy settings are up to snuff.
- 5 Minute Facebook Privacy Checkup
- Instagram Web Profiles introduced – How to keep your child’s information private
- Ask.fm settings for Safety and Privacy (to the extent that is possible)
And remember, even though you may be doing a great job protecting yourself, what about the companies that you trust to protect you and your data? Your favorite coffee shop might have the best cappuccinos in town, but the free wifi is a place where other customers could easy access your data. Once that information is submitted, where is it going? Companies using secure virtual private clouds to store your sensitive data are protecting you from the unknown. These servers protect stored information, making it harder for hackers to gain access, whether remote or physical. Many companies do not use such secure options. Check with the companies that store your data; and read the privacy policies!
Hopefully these tips will help you secure your data not just during Data Privacy month, but every day, week, and month of the year.