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Look for the Link and Logo—It Could Make All the Difference

Your name, phone number, address, and birthday are special to you. In fact, you own this information. That's why there are laws designed to protect you from people who want to steal it and use it for themselves.

In fact, in 1998, our government passed the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) to ensure children's privacy online. It exists to protect you and your personal information. Starting in April 2000, Web sites had to take extra steps to safeguard YOU and your private information.

laptopWeb sites used to be able to collect your information in a snap without your permission. But now, because of COPPA, Web sites with information for kids 13 years old and younger must also do the following before collecting information:

  • Get permission from your parents before recording your personal information.
  • Re-ask your parents for permission before using your information if something changes on the Web site.
  • Allow parents to review the information the site gathered on YOU.
  • Permit your parents to change their mind and ask the Web site to delete your personal information from their files if they choose.
  • Post their privacy policy in a link. Sometimes Web sites feature a special safety logo.

Spam—No, Not the Food!
Your private information can be gathered by visiting Web sites. But, it can also be collected if you respond to random e-mails or talk to strangers online. When you give your information out, you are not just putting yourself in danger, but you are also putting your whole family at risk. We can't see the person on the other side of computer or know why they really want our stats. Sometimes the data strangers gather through e-mail is used for spam, or unwanted e-mails. These e-mails can fill up your inbox in a hurry. The files are usually very large and sometimes they even have viruses that could damage your computer.

Here are some tips to post next to your computer as a reminder to not provide your personal information:

  • Do not give out your last name, address, or phone number in chatrooms, on message boards, or, online strangers.
  • Your screen names, passwords, and IDs are personal and private—do not share them with people you don't know and trust.
  • Surf the Internet with your parents or a trusted adult.
  • If a site asks you for information without asking your parent/guardian's permission first, close out of it!