Identity theft: a risk to popular newborns

Saturday, October 9, 2010

According to a recent survey by AVG, an Internet security firm, "82 percent of children in 10 Western countries have a digital footprint before the age of 2"

A digital footprint includes any of a person's information that can be found using Internet search engines or websites. The article "Study: 82 percent of kids under 2 have an online presence" by Mark Milian, CNN, primarily focuses on Facebook.

The photos of children on Facebook are not the primary issue, but the personal information which is found
alongside the photos is where the problem lies.

Over 92 percent of U.S. children have photos on the Internet. The personal information that often gets disclosed (full name, birth date, family members, etc.) along with the photo can contribute to identity thefts.

"Obviously there's a privacy issue," said AVG spokeswoman Siobhan MacDermott, "if they're applying for credit [later on] and having that information readily available for people who want to compromise their identities."

The more shared photos there are on Facebook, the more likely someone is to find them and utilize the information which accompanies them.

Most people aren't considering the information they're putting on the Internet until it's too late. It's important to educate people on how to prevent outside viewers from viewing the photos to begin with.

Facebook is in the process of fine-tuning privacy settings for these very reasons. It is now an option to allow only a small group of people to view certain information at one time.

 I would advise everyone to take advantage of these options, whether or not they are sharing information about their children, but especially if they are.

"It's a matter of being aware of what you're doing," MacDermott said. "When you're posting it to a public forum like Facebook, use privacy settings."

As easy as it is to assume no one but family is interested in newborn baby pictures, they are. And sometimes not for the right reasons.


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