Tuesday, February 24, 2015
News Herald – Juliann Talkington
Does the rest of the world know more about your child than you do?
When Facebook first became popular, kids did not understand the permanence of social media posts or how a “private” post could be circulated to millions of people. Today most kids know the risks of posting inappropriate pictures, disclosing travel plans, and making caustic comments online.
Now parents are being forced to address a new set of challenges. The latest threats come from RFID (radio frequency identification) chips and search engine, social media, and credit card data collection.
RFID chips are used to track items at a distance. With recent prices drops, governments and private companies are embedding these chips into many things including driver licenses, credit cards, and clothing. In the right hands the information is helpful, since it can help curb credit card fraud and reduce shoplifting. However, the technology also makes it easy for criminals to track and take advantage of children.
One of the most concerning trends is information sharing between data collectors (driver license agencies and credit card companies) and police departments. Although information on police misconduct is not well publicized, some publications are suggesting that thousands of police officers are involved in criminal behavior including violence, drugs, theft, and forcible sex. As a result sharing detailed personal information with these agencies puts our kids at risk.
The second problem is equally troubling. Internet companies like Google and Facebook are collecting and selling personal information on their users at an alarming rate. The information is not only sold to companies who are interested in targeted marketing, but also to organizations that use the information for other purposes. This means criminals can get very detailed information on almost everyone, including children.
The challenge is we need to access and use information to function in the 21st Century. As a result, it is not realistic to prohibit our children from using the Internet. Instead we need to talk with our children about the issues, so they can minimize the information they release and are aware that criminals likely have all their personal information.
Then parents need to reduce the amount information they allow their children to place on the web and should demand the right to opt out of RFID programs. Most importantly, we need to support companies that allow us to protect our privacy.
We deserve to know more about our kids than Google, Cola Cola, and the government.