The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has
produced a Fact Sheet to protect the privacy of individuals who
engage in online social networking. The Fact Sheet identifies a
number of key risks including fraud, online identity theft and
reputation damage, cyberstalking, scams and malicious software
(malware). Some of the simple steps individuals can take to protect
themselves include reading the terms and conditions before signing
up to social networking sites, checking privacy settings, and
knowing where to go for help.
Online identity theft and reputation damage
ACMA explains that fake profiles can be created on social
networking sites to gain trust or post inappropriate messages. If
false and malicious information or doctored images are posted on an
individual's profile, this can cause damage to reputation and
may justify legal action. The Fact Sheet recommends that
individuals monitor their personal information on social networking
sites by restricting those who have access (the default is normally
set quite low), removing disagreeable pictures or pages and
reporting false or abusive pages to the site administrators.
The more information an individual provides online, including
posts and live chat in online social networking sites, the easier
it is for people to commit fraud. Therefore an individual should
use reputable sites so that their information will be safe and
secure and not misused, especially financial information.
An individual can unintentionally install malicious software
when using online social networks, for example, by downloading
applications containing viruses or clicking on links in live chats.
These can collect sensitive information such as passwords or
banking details and send it back to people who can carry out fraud.
The Fact Sheet alerts individuals to keep a closed profile so that
strangers cannot post infected links to their profile, to be
careful which applications are downloaded and to not click on links
or open attachments unless they are from a trusted source.
It is important to remember that if you are offered something
that appears to be too good to be true, it usually will be. Common
scams are listed at www.scamwatch.gov.au. The Fact Sheet recommends
that before an offer is accepted, the individual should contact the
organisation or person through an independent source.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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The issue of recording telephone calls was recently considered in the Federal Court in Furnari v Ziegert  FCA 1080.
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