The Privacy Commissioner and Information Commissioner provide privacy tips for the festive system

December 19, 2014 |

The Australian Privacy Commissioner, with Privacy tips for the festive season, and the UK Information Commissioner’s office, with Is protecting data on your Christmas list?, have issued posts/statements on the need to maintain proper data security.  As far as they go they are reasonable and easily understood suggestions.  Given the unfurling saga of the Sony data breach cyber security has to be given a higher priority at every level.

The Privacy Commissioner’s statement provides:

At this busy time of year it is easy to forget about protecting your privacy, but people share a lot of information over the festive season – online shopping, giveaways, competitions and loyalty cards all ask you to share your personal information.

Always think before you share, and stay in control of your privacy.


  • Read the privacy policy and check the security of websites when you’re shopping online – read our ‘What to look for in a privacy policy poster’ for some tips on getting the most out of a privacy policy.
  • Be aware of how much personal information are you are giving away in exchange for special deals. Do they really need all that information to complete the transaction, and what are they going to do with it?
  • Pay your bills on time to avoid future credit problems. Late or missed payments may be included on your credit reporting file and could stop you obtaining credit in the future. Check out our fact sheet about repayment history information.
  • Check privacy settings on your social networking and mobile sites. Think about who you’re sharing you holiday pics with, and if you’re comfortable with them knowing that you’re not at home.
  • Create strong passwords, change them regularly and think about what personal information you are storing on your mobile or computer.
  • Beware of scams. The festive season is a busy time for scammers, and you should always be careful – if something looks too good to be true, it probably is. You can sign up to the Stay Smart Online alert service for information about current online threats. For news of current scams making the rounds, or to report a scam, visit ScamWatch.

The Information Commissioner’s Office’s post provides:

Across the UK, millions of electronic items will top the Christmas lists of children and adults alike this year including mobile phones, tablets, netcams, fitness devices and smart TVs. When the kids are downloading apps to their mobiles and connecting to Facebook via the TV on Christmas Day probably the last thing on your mind will be protecting their privacy.

Take mobile phone apps. Data protection agencies across the world recently carried out a joint survey around apps and found that over 1,200 of them were accessing large amounts of unnecessary personal data from users. This month an alert was sent out to companies to highlight the problem.

This is just one way personal information is being gathered via online and other electronic devices, so with this in mind the ICO has put together five top tech tips to keep personal data under control when using your new devices:

Don’t be afraid to say no – in our recent survey into apps over half the people that took part had decided not to download an app because of privacy concerns. So if you’re not happy giving more details than are necessary when installing an app or for anything online, don’t sign up. And if you do, make sure there is an adequate explanation about how your information will be used.

Take steps to protect your children but also talk to them – children could be accessing the internet in all sorts of ways including via a games console, mobile phone or smart TV. Internet filtering and monitoring software can help prevent children from accessing inappropriate content but they are not fool-proof. The best protection is education so discuss internet usage with your children. Make sure they understand how to use the appropriate privacy settings on social media, how to delete data and that any personal details they give out are not excessive.

Don’t use the default password – immediately change any default passwords on new devices especially those that are wireless or controlled over the internet. Use a strong password: a mixture of numbers, letters and symbols is good, and the longer the better – never use a dictionary word.

Know who knows what – many electronic devices collect information, not just the typical tablets and phones. More recent devices include Smart TVs, streaming sticks and wearable technology. Companies can often gain huge amounts of data from how you use your devices, so do some research into the gifts you’re giving or receiving and make sure you are happy with how your personal information will be dealt with before buying the device. Creating online accounts in advance or setting up the privacy settings can be a good idea before you wrap up your gifts.

Delete your old data – once you’ve received your new gifts, take some time to check old devices you’re getting rid of and any data stored on them. Personal information, bank and credit card details can be securely deleted from laptops and hard drives so no one can access your data if you decide to sell or recycle the device.

One Response to “The Privacy Commissioner and Information Commissioner provide privacy tips for the festive system”

  1. The Privacy Commissioner and Information Commissioner provide privacy tips for the festive system | Australian Law Blogs

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