Play it safe! We use the Internet for just about everything — socializing, sharing information, researching, networking and even watching movies. It’s become one of our most valuable and entertaining tools, but at the same time one of our worst threats. If you aren’t careful with how you use the Internet, you could give up your privacy and jeopardize your safety without even knowing it. Get informed about how to safely use online resources, and where to go to get more information or find help if you feel that your safety or privacy is at risk.
Protecting your privacy
When you post or provide your personal information on the Internet, anyone can use it to steal your identity, defame you, embarrass you, invade your privacy, harass you or track you down. Here are our top five tips for avoiding some of the unintended consequences of participating in the online universe:
- Be gender neutral when you identify yourself online.
- Don’t give out information just because someone asks for it.
- Block or ignore spam and unwanted emails. As soon as you confirm that your email address is legitimate by responding to them, they will invade your privacy further by sending you more spam.
- Understand the terms and conditions of the services you sign up for. If you don’t read the terms and conditions for the services you use, you could be allowing your service providers sell your personal information to advertisers without even knowing it.
- Think before you post. As soon as you post personal information online, even in your email signature, you never know who will use it to commit a crime or forward it to someone with bad intentions, such as cyberbullies, stalkers and identity thieves.
Get help and learn more
If you want to find out more about staying safe online or how to get help if you end up being the target of online crimes, there are lots of resources available:
Removing personal information
- If there is information posted about you on a U of T site that you want removed, contact the site’s webmaster.
- If you are trying to get your information removed from a public site, be persistent with site operators and keep records of all of your correspondences.
- Fortunately, Facebook has made it easier to delete your account!
Laws, guidelines and online privacy tips
- U of T’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Office
- Center for Democracy and Technology’s Top 14 Ways to Protect Your Privacy Online
- Information and Privacy Commission/Ontario