Privacy for young people
You can make choices about where your personal information goes.
This page is here to help equip you with the knowledge you need to make informed choices about protecting your privacy.
Privacy is about more than just keeping things secret – it’s about being able to control your personal information. Privacy gives us the chance to decide what we want to share, and what we’d rather not. For instance, maybe you’re comfortable with some information being shared with your friends and family, but not with anyone else.
Check out the FAQs below for information on how you can protect your privacy (or download them here) and download our digital privacy postcard here. These resources were produced by our Youth Advisory Group. You can read more about our Youth Advisory Group here.
Key tips for protecting your privacy
INFORM yourself about your privacy and how to protect it.
TALK with your friends and family about what privacy means to you.
CHECK your online privacy settings and app permissions on your phone.
ASK questions about your personal information.
CALL for help if you need it – you can contact us.
THINK about what you share, and who you’re sharing it with.
UNDERSTAND the choices you are making about your personal information – once it’s out there it can be hard to control.
REMEMBER your information is valuable.
SHARE what you know about privacy, so your friends can protect themselves too.
Helpful questions and answers
I don't want to read the long terms and conditions, I just want this app. What can I do to protect my privacy when downloading something new?
Long terms and conditions are really boring, but they also contain a lot of really important details about what is being done with your information. If you don’t want to read the whole thing, two key things to look out for are:
- What will the app have access to on your phone? For example, does it access your photos or your microphone? Does that seem reasonable to you?
- Does it mention ‘third party access’? This means that the app is sharing your information with other companies or organisations. It’s good to be aware of where your information is going so you know what you’re signing up for.
When you sign up for a new app, it can be tempting to click ‘login with Facebook’ instead of creating a separate account. This is super convenient, but make sure you know that it means these accounts are now connected. They most likely share your information, and if someone is able to access your Facebook account, they may also have access to any connected accounts. You can control this under the ‘Apps and Websites’ section of your Facebook settings.
I've heard of companies looking people up online when they apply for jobs. What does this mean for my privacy?
You never know how the information that is out there about you might be used in the future. While many consider it to be an invasion of privacy, it is becoming more and more common for companies to use information found online to inform their decisions about you. Sometimes this might be as simple as someone Googling your name, but in other instances it might be done automatically by an algorithm.
Posting something online might not matter so much to you right now, but it’s good to stop and think about the impact it might have on your future self.
On the plus side, you can also harness the power of social media by creating a positive image for yourself for future opportunities. A big part of protecting privacy is being able to have control over our identity and how we appear to others. No one wants a nasty reputation online or offline – remember to be respectful of yourself and others.
I have loads of accounts online. How can I keep everything safe?
Having lots of accounts means lots of passwords. Keeping track of them all and making sure they are strong enough can be really hard. Here are some pointers for making strong passwords.
Symbols and numbers are great, but on their own they actually aren’t that helpful when making strong passwords. Something like Pa$swO4d! looks complicated to humans, but is really simple for a computer. Plus, it’s also just hard to remember!
Instead, create a long string of words. Avoid common phrases, song lyrics or lines from movies. Add in a couple of capital letters, special characters or numbers for extra strength. For example, something like ‘Pancakesareroundbutsometimessquare!’ would take a computer much longer to crack than something like ‘ilovecats123’. Check out how strong your password is here.
No doubt you’ve heard this before, but reusing the same password for multiple accounts is a very risky move – if one of them gets hacked, you’re putting all of your other accounts at risk too. Using a password manager makes everything really easy. It’s one of the most reliable and convenient ways to keep on top of all the passwords in your life. This article goes through the some of the best password managers out there.
I already know that my data is collected online – but so what?
It’s really hard to erase your digital footprint – remember that everything you do online leaves a trail of digital breadcrumbs. Everything you like, share, or even just click on, can be used to create an in-depth picture of you and your online behaviour – don’t be fooled into thinking that this data isn’t being used by someone.
Remember, your information is valuable. Many companies use the data you leave behind online to be able to target you with advertising. They’re really good at their job – so you might not even realise that they are sneakily manipulating you into buying things. You can easily install a plugin to stop yourself from being tracked around the internet: here’s a list of some available tools.
It’s also important to know that there are people online that may not have your best interests at heart or could even be dangerous. We’ve all heard of stranger danger – this is just as important online as it is off. Make sure you look after yourself and your friends by being careful with your privacy online.
I think my privacy may have been breached. What can I do?
If you think your personal information hasn’t been handled appropriately you can do something about it, but it depends on who it is:
If it’s a Victorian government agency, we can help. This page has lots of information about making a privacy complaint. If you’re not sure, you can always call us on 1300 00 6842 to chat about it.
If it’s a private company, a government agency from another state, or a Commonwealth government agency, we might not be able to help you, but we can put you in touch with the people who can. More information about where to complain can be found here.