Online Privacy and Identity Protection

by Jacqueline Mesnard


In 1995 The Federal Trade Commission held the first public workshop to address issues of internet privacy and identity protection. Issues of privacy were addressed regarding how personal information was collected from website users. Another workshop was conducted in 1996 which specifically addressed concerns related to personal information being collected from children.
The internet has increased consumer's ability to make informed choices regarding products and has allowed marketers to tailor goods and services to consumers. This exchange of information between supplier and consumer, have increased opportunities for unauthorized access to personal/financial information of consumers. The recent increase in the use of social networking sites and the exchange of information increases risk of privacy violations and issues related to identity theft. The FTC continues to hold workshops to assist consumers with the solutions. These solutions include; self regulation, technology based solutions, education, and government regulations ("You, Your Privacy and Coppa," 2002).

Current State:

Similar issues continue to concern current internet users. Phishing scams defraud people by using statistics software to obtain personal information. Overall identity theft related to online use, has decreased since 2007. Technology solutions such as internet filters, cookie, and pop up filters have come along way and are common place for most internet users. The general public is better informed regarding the importance of creating and frequently changing passwords to protect personal information. Government laws have been passed to protect internet users. One example is the COPA or the Child Online Protection Act which limits the ability of websites targeting children, to collect and store information from site visitors (Anderson, 2011).

Issues with privacy and personal identification continue to be problematic for internet users. An overview of some of the common problems along with links to possible solutions are listed below.

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Personal information is secretly obtained by visiting unsecured websites.
Pay attention to URL of website. Those beginning with https are secure.
Look for the lock icon in the browse.
Mozilla FireFox Lock Icon
Mozilla FireFox Lock Icon

Visit the link below for more information on determining security status of
Anyone can see what individual posts on social networking sites such as Facebook.
Read up on how others are staying safe online. An example would be to visit
and download the "Very Unofficial Facebook Privacy Guide" listed on
Being cyberbaited or being taunted and having the response to the taunting
filmed or digitally captured. The video or picture is then uploaded to the internet
for the sole purpose of publicly embarrassing or humiliating the victim.
Teachers are actually the victims of this scam too, usually falling prey after
befriending students on social networking sites.
To see information on how to avoid these and other related scams visit
Being targeted by an online predator. The FBI has stated that online services
are the number one place predators visit when looking for victims.
To learn more about how online predators operate and how to avoid them visit
Having personal information accessed or learning that your accounts have possibly been
phished (Anderson, 2011).
File a fraud alert with major credit companies. For information regarding how to
complete this visit

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Anderson, S. W. (Producer). (2011). Internet safety for kids and adults. [Web Graphic]. Retrieved from
Internet safety week [16MM]. (2010). Available from
There is no real world and digital world [16MM]. (2010). Available from
(2002). You, your privacy policy and coppa. Retrieved from FTC, Bureau of Consumer Protection website: how-comply-childrens-online-privacy-protection-act