Online Safety for Parents and Kids: New Tools


There are a few recent changes in legal policy that will affect your family’s life online...

By Famigo's Matthew McDonnell for

The Do Not Track List

There are a few recent changes in legal policy that affect your family's life online. The first is the discussion of "Do Not Track" legislation as part of a House subcommittee meeting involving several technology companies, the Federal Trade Commission, and lawmakers.

The basics of the proposed legislation are very similar to the Do Not Call List which allows individuals to prevent telemarketers from calling them.

The Do Not Track List would prevent companies from tracking user behavior online in order to offer a more customized user experience.
While tech companies and lawmakers agree that online privacy is a very legitimate concern, they disagree about the transparency required to achieve a solution.

On one hand, tech companies are concerned with protecting their intellectual property. On the other hand, some lawmakers are adamant that the process be completely open and subject to public involvement throughout. Finding resolution will require a careful balancing act of many legitimate and important interests.

Related: Do High-Tech Parents Know Too Much About their Kids?

Mobile Security

Police now routinely use phone locating services to accomplish a range of tasks from executing a wire tap, to locating criminals evading law enforcement officers, to finding a critically injured accident victim as quickly as possible.

But there are legitimate concerns regarding the extent to which this tactic should be employed.

Particularly troubling is that police departments often contract directly with carriers to obtain such information and a warrant or court order is not always involved. Here, too, there are many legitimate and important, yet competing interests.

With the rapid proliferation of mobile devices, and the shear volume of personal information recorded on smartphones, mobile security is becoming increasingly important.

Related: Top 10 Ways to Keep Your Kids Safe on their Cell Phones

The following three steps are the foundation of mobile security.

  • Make sure you have a pass-code to access your device. You should change this annually, just as you would your other passwords.
  • You should configure your phone in order to ensure that it can be erased should you lose it. Most device makers offer this service and it tends to be fairly easy to configure.
  • Consider enabling the tracking feature on your phone. If you loose it, this could help you locate it before it's compromised by a dishonest finder.

Bloomberg Businessweek recently published a piece, Data Security: Most finders of Lost Smart Phones are Snoops, explaining what information was accessed when researchers deliberately "lost" smartphones. Half of all the "lost" phones were returned, but not before more than 80% of finders accessed some sort of personal information.

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This article was originally published at . Reprinted with permission from the author.