Home | Protecting Consumers | Safeguarding Children | Seniors | Law Enforcement | Site Map | Search

What Is Personally Identifiable Information, and Why Is It Important?

Where Do I Go To Learn How Companies Treat My Information?

What Can I Do To Protect My Information Online?

Cookies and Online Tracking

Using Social Networks & Photo-Sharing Services

Mobile Devices & Privacy

Additional Privacy Considerations

Online Privacy Rights under Maryland and Federal Law

This guide was created in collaboration with
Future of Privacy Forum logo graphic

Printable version of this Guide (PDF).

Additional Privacy Considerations

kids on laptopsChildren and Teens. Today, children have access to computers, smart phones, tablets, video services, and other devices - and each of them raises privacy concerns.

If your children are under the age of 13, the federal law known as the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), applies to the collection of their personal information. When websites are directed towards children under age 13, they may only collect your child's personal information where there is clear, verifiable evidence that you consented to provide the information. They must also honor your choices about how the child's data will be used. Both the Attorney General and the Federal Trade Commission have the authority to take action against a company that violates COPPA.
Do not allow your children to impersonate you online or otherwise use services without your approval. For more information about COPPA, visit www.onguardonline.gov.

Social Networking and Tweens, Teens, and Young Adults. Social networking sites, texting, and mobile apps are increasingly important ways for tweens, teens, and young adults to socialize online. Consider speaking with your older children about what information they disclose and the risks, as well as the benefits that come from such disclosures. Sensible privacy practices may be a good defense against cyberbullying and online predators, and can also keep your child from damaging his or her long-term reputation.

Build and Protect Your Children's Digital Reputation. From an early age, parents need to encourage their children and teenagers to think about what they want their digital reputation to be. Their digital footprint is often permanent, and children need to be taught that anything they post online could be impossible to later delete. Something shared on a social network at the spur of the moment can be discovered years later by friends or prospective employers. Teens often think about how they portray themselves online to their friends, but may need to be reminded about the audience of employers, colleges and others.

Resources. There are a number of tools to help parents talk about, and kids learn about, privacy:

Domestic Abuse or Dating Violence Survivors. Safety planning is critically important for victims of domestic or other sexual violence and abuse. Abusers may sometimes harass, stalk, or monitor survivors using technology. Some general safety tips on technology are listed below. If you want more information, use a safe computer or phone and contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or www.nnedv.org/safetynet.

Find a Safe Computing Device. If you think you may be monitored on your home computer, be careful how you use it. It is not possible to delete or clear all the "footprints" from your computing or online activities, so if you're using the computer to visit websites or do other things that might endanger you if the abuser finds out, try using a safer computer, tablet, smart phone, or device, such as a computer in a public library or at a trusted friend's house.

Using Online Accounts. On the safe computer, change your user names and passwords for sites and accounts you visit frequently. It is safest to create brand new accounts for email and new user names. Importantly, in case the unsafe computer is being monitored, you should only use these new names and passwords on the safe computer.

Email & Instant Messaging. These are not very safe or confidential ways to talk if you are in danger. It is usually safer to call a hotline from a safe phone.

Cameras in Your Computer or Tablet. If your computer or tablet has a built-in web camera, consider disabling the camera when you aren't using it, or covering up the camera with a piece of removable tape.

Smart Phones and Other Mobile Devices

Get a new cell phone if you suspect yours is being monitored. A pay-as-you-go phone is an inexpensive alternative, or you may be able to get a donated phone.

Put a passcode on your (new) phone. Don't let the abusive person access it, in case he wants to snoop on your calls and Internet usage or load location-tracking software on it. And, once again, make sure your location and Bluetooth settings are turned off and stay off.

Turn off Bluetooth and location access. These devices can be used to locate you, so you should turn off Bluetooth and location access. You should also get rid of any smart phone apps that you do not use or do not know what they do. If your battery gets drained very quickly, this might be a sign that a program to monitor you or your location is constantly in use on your phone.


Attorney General of Maryland 1 (888) 743-0023 toll-free / TDD: (410) 576-6372
Home | Site Map | Privacy Policy | Contact Us