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Asia Pacific Privacy Commissioners ask ‘how private is your profile?’

With social networking increasingly becoming a part of everyday lives, the Asia Pacific Privacy Authorities (APPA) have joined together to remind people to take care with what they share online and familiarise themselves with their social networking sites' privacy policies and settings.

This year during APPA's annual Privacy Awareness Week (1 to 7 May 2011), privacy commissioners and regulators from across the Asia Pacific region have released an animation and e-survey to find out more about privacy and social networking.

The short, humorous animation highlights some of the privacy issues users should think about when using social networking. It shows the consequences of inadequate security settings and how careless postings and can easily compromise someone's reputation.

"Social networking is entrenched in our daily lives but many people seem to be unaware of the risks: default settings usually allow public access to information that is posted, so people continually risk their privacy , often without realising it," said Australian Privacy Commissioner, Timothy Pilgrim.

"We're not saying ‘don't use it'. We just want Australians to know that there are steps they can take to restrict who sees their information so they can engage with social media safely."

The APPA members have also put together an e-survey to learn more about users' habits when it comes to privacy and social networking. The survey will be open throughout May, and the results will be released later in the year.

"We want to hear from people who use social networking sites about how much they know and understand about privacy online and whether they read privacy policies. During Privacy Awareness Week, we're urging people to take the time to review their privacy settings on the social networking sites they use. Make sure that you have the appropriate level of protection in place so that the choice about who sees your personal information is yours," Mr Pilgrim said.

APPA members have also put together some tips for social networking users to make sure their experience is as private as they want it to be. The tips, animation and e-survey are all available from www.privacyawarenessweek.org

For media enquiries and interview requests - contact Ms Leila Daniels on 0407 663 968 or media@oaic.gov.au


Additional information

Asia Pacific Privacy Authorities

The Asia Pacific Privacy Authorities (APPA) consists of data protection authorities in 8 countries. The following authorities are members:

  • Office of the Australian Information Commissioner
  • Office of the Victorian Privacy Commissioner
  • Office of the New South Wales Privacy Commissioner
  • Office of the Northern Territory Information Commissioner
  • Office of the Information Commissioner, Queensland
  • Office of the New Zealand Privacy Commissioner
  • Office of the Korea Internet and Security Agency
  • Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data, Hong Kong
  • Federal Institute for Access to Information and Data Protection, Mexico
  • Office of the Privacy Commissioner, Canada
  • Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner, British Columbia
  • Federal Trade Commission, United States

Asia Pacific Privacy Authorities tips for safe social networking

  • Know the privacy policy and settings of the social networking sites you use
  • Think about the information you share and how it's being used, eg, what might a future employer or partner think if they read it?
  • Remember, the internet lets your information be collected and shared easily. The harmless information you post could be added to the mix, creating a profile about you that reveals more than you might prefer. Who might see it?
  • Sharing information with just a few people doesn't stop it reaching a wider audience; be aware who might pass things on
  • Before you post and tag pictures of someone else, ask for their consent - and request that they do the same to you
  • Set up ‘friend' groups to control the access different people in your life have to your personal details
  • Don't accept friend requests from people you don't know
  • Location-based check-ins can be risky. Do you really want everyone to know that no-one's home?