Here is an adaptation from Wesley Darity’s PrivacyGurus Newsletter. It is a good reminder that we often don’t think when giving out private information that could turn into a huge problem!

“…(It is important for) everyone from senior citizens to grammar schoolers to stay aware and alert. After all, the U.S. Constitution does not provide any explicit right to privacy so we have to take it into our own hands.

There are four general areas of privacy: bodily, territorial, communications, and information.

  • Bodily Privacy- We expect that our bodies are private, unless we as a society have agreed otherwise. For example, if we are in an airport security line and the metal detector beeps as we walk through the scanner. We expect to be searched. Or if we agree to having drug tests as a condition of employment. Or if we are renewing our driver’s license and agree as a condition of having that license to submit a thumb print.
  • Territorial Privacy- We expect that our homes are private. However, when we walk into a convenience store or up to the ATM, we know or should know that we are being video-taped. Or  we are at an intersection with a red light traffic camera there to record violators of the red light.
  • Communication Privacy- We expect that our personal conversations are private. But our expectation changes, or should change, if we are on a cell phone versus a land line. We expect that our letters signed, sealed and mailed with the postal service are private but our expectation changes, or should change, when sending email. It is not in any way “private”.
  • Information Privacy- We expect that our financial information at the bank and the health concerns we discuss with our doctors is confidential. However, anyone can watch what our work-out routines are at the fitness center and we expect that a number of people will know what we buy at the store. The act of purchasing is a public act, for which there is no reasonable expectation of privacy.

It is important for each parent/guardian of a school-ager, from elementary school through college, to provide them with ways to protect their privacy while out in the world. It is becoming as critical as not accepting rides from strangers.

Privacy Rule 1- You have rights. Know and let your child know that it is a good idea to say NO to requests for unnecessary information. Schools, athletic teams and pediatric offices routinely request Social Security Numbers for registration purposes. Before giving that information, always ask if it is this required and by whom. If you do not like the answer, then decline to provide the data. Remember: Social Security cards are not a form of identification.

Rule 2- Always Beware. The best way to protect your/ your child’s identity is by teaching them that documents containing their personal information, such as social security cards, bank statements, and passports, should be locked up in a safe place rather than carrying them around everywhere.

As always, be aware and alert as to the information you divulge online. Assume that none of it is confidential unless overtly stated in the website’s privacy policy. Know that your every move online may be tracked by sophisticated technology poised to collect your data.

Thanks, Darity, We will try to remember and pass on your good advice. Darity can be reached at [email protected]