Know your privacy rights when using online social networking: Privacy Commissioner

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The Privacy Commissioner Karen Curtis has entered the privacy debate surrounding social networking sites announcing a new FAQ section on its website that helps minimise risks associated with the activity.

The FAQs offer four main security steps when using sites such as Facebook, Bebo and Friendster which includes, knowing your rights and reading the site’s privacy policy.

Furthermore, users should be careful about what information they share on the site and take advantage of the included privacy tools to control access to personal profiles.

"Many people are all too readily posting photos and personal details of themselves and their friends on social networking sites without necessarily thinking about who else may obtain access to the personal information," Curtis said. "I strongly recommend that Australians should know their privacy rights and take steps to safeguard their privacy when visiting social networking sites."

Furthermore, users should make sure anti-virus software is up-to-date.

According to the latest Unisys Security Index, depending on the users' age, Australians are very uncomfortable providing personal information on social networking sites.

“It is clear that age plays a key role in the level of comfort or otherwise in providing specific personal information to an online social networking site," said vice president and general manager of Unisys Asia Pacific, Andrew Barkla.

“The Unisys research demonstrates that 18 – 34 year old Australians are twice as likely to be comfortable providing detailed information such as email addresses, full names and age then their counterparts aged 50-64.

“Just as behaviour change has helped address road safety issues such as speeding and drink driving, it is clear we need to employ the same strategies to minimise any risk associated with online social networking."

According to Unisys, in Australia social networking site MySpace has 3.8 million profiles.

Curtis strongly recommends that Australians should know their privacy rights and take steps to safeguard their privacy when visiting social networking sites.

Furthermore, with regard to any privacy-related complaints about a social networking site, the office of the Privacy Commissioner recommends users to contact the site and complain to the site’s ‘trust-mark’ issuer or call the Office’s privacy enquiries line for advice on 1300 363 992.
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