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As 1.6 million Aussie users of Sony’s PlayStation network count the possible cost of data breaches following the company’s data hacking incident last month, the Association of Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is reminding citizens of the need to protect personal information.

This week is Privacy Awareness Week, and ACMA has come out in support of personal information, with a suite of resources for teachers, parents and teens on how to keep their personal information safe and protected against identity theft on the internet.

The Australian federal government is also expected to introduce new laws forcing companies to reveal security breaches quickly following the Sony breach, though it is not known when such legislation may be in place.

Several private and public organisations, such as PayPal and the Asia Pacific Privacy Authorities have also joined forces to re-inforce the message, and to urge people to take steps to protect their privacy.

“It’s sometimes easy to disclose more information about ourselves than we need to,” said ACMA Chairman, Chris Chapman. “Your personal information is yours alone and you are generally under no obligation to hand it over to anyone without knowing what they are going to do with it.”

Privacy measures can be as simple as changing the privacy settings on social networking sites such as Facebook, or checking your internet browsers.

“We are asked for our personal information so often that we tend to forget that we have privacy rights,” claims ACMA, advising people to ask businesses and even government organisations why they need to have the information they collect and what they aim to do with it.

According to Privacy Commissioner, Timothy Pilgrim: “When you agree to provide others with your personal information, it’s in your best interest to understand how it will be used, kept safe and where it may end up.”

 

Frerk-Malte Feller, managing director of PayPal Australia also warned of the dangers of privacy when shopping online.

He said: “Australia has never before witnessed such rapid growth in online commerce. In just the first few months of 2011 we have witnessed dozens of Australian retailers opening up online stores and with this growth come tens of thousands of Australian shoppers. It is important that this trend does not outpace consumer awareness for the potential risks when shopping online.

“Before subscribing to services, typing in bank account details, or quickly paying for an online bargain, all consumers must stop to think about how this information could or will be used,” said Feller.

And, with so much information held on smartphones, treating your mobile phone like your wallet is also imperative, according to ACMA.

The Asia Pacific Privacy Authorities have joined together to launch an e-survey on the issue to learn more about Aussies’ habits on privacy and social networking.

More information and tips on privacy are also included on ACMA’s Cybersmart website.


 

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