Internet privacy laws can be confusing and a somewhat grey area for many Australian Internet users. Too often users are not sure about their online privacy rights and don’t want to share their personal information while websites want to know all they can about them.
Privacy laws – Protecting your privacy online
In Australia, privacy rights of individuals are protected by the Privacy Act which is an Australian law regulating the exchange of personal information. Even though Australian privacy laws require that online websites respect your details, it’s recommended that you take your own privacy measures when using the Internet. The reason you’ll need to take responsibility for your online privacy is because Australian privacy laws may be limited since:
- It may be hard and costly for the Australian agencies to do anything about small, individual privacy concerns, especially when the owners of some websites are hard to track down.
- Online technologies and websites are rapidly developing, and Australian privacy laws may not cover these new technologies.
- You may access international websites, and these may be outside the scope of Australian law.
If you are concerned about better protecting your identity online, here are some good ways to get started:
1. Make sure the website is safe
One issue with the Internet is that there’s no way to be sure about who is running a website that you decide to use. It is always recommended to refrain from revealing any identifiable information such as your name, email address, credit card information and so on. Of course, you may need to give those details in order to buy goods or services online (online shopping!), but be sure that the website is trustworthy and using secure payment gateways (such as PayPal, eWay or SecurePay).
When using the Internet for making financial transactions, such as online shopping or bank transactions, it is a good idea to use a secure Internet connection in your home or office, rather than using the Internet at a public place, like a café or library.
2. Setting your password
Experts recommend that different passwords be used for different accounts. When selecting a password, choose one that is strong and keep changing it frequently. Choose from a combination of letters, numbers and punctuation symbols to make your password strong.
3. Pay attention to your mobile security
If you are like the many Australians who carry out their daily transactions on their mobile phones, you may want to pay greater attention to your mobile security. There are a number of activities taking place via social networks, such as emails, contact lists, chats as well as online shopping and record keeping.
A lot of personal information is stored on your phone. If you’re someone who keeps their phone logged into their email and social networks, consider putting a pin lock on your phone to safeguard against unauthorised access.
4. Using social media
If you use social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, then make sure you’re familiar with both their privacy policies and privacy settings. Before you post anything online, remember that your digital footprint will stay there forever. This makes it very important to carefully consider what you want to share on social media.
Most social media sites will allow users to choose privacy settings and control the type and amount of information they wish to share, so choose your settings carefully. This is also a factor in letting others share your information without your approval, or leading to identity fraud.
Whatever information is displayed on your social network page, a public profile will enable anyone to access it. Make sure to set your privacy settings according to what makes you feel the most comfortable.
5. Watch out for scams
There are a lot of online scams on the Internet. Typically, they lure users with offers of winning a prize or lottery, getting a refund, updating information, or the like. However, if you are not expecting such requests and they seem out of place, do not give out your personal information unless you are sure that they are legitimate.
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