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    Wall Street Journal: How to Protect Your Kids’ Privacy Online

    At the Wall Street Journal, Julia Angwin discusses teaching children about why privacy is important:

    If you search for my kids online, you’ll find barely a trace of them. Not only do I not post any information or photos of them, I have also taught them to erase their own digital footprints. […]

    Why go to such extremes at such a young age? Because if I don’t do anything to help my children learn to protect themselves, all their data will be swept up into giant databases, and their identity will be forever shaped by that information. […]

    Even worse, if my children leave their data lying around, they will face all the risks of what I call our “dragnet nation,” in which increased computing power and cheap data storage have fueled a new type of surveillance: suspicionless, computerized, impersonal and vast in scope. Criminals could use my kids’ data to impersonate them for financial fraud. Extortionists could seize control of their computers’ Web cameras and blackmail them with nude photos. And most terrifyingly, their innocent online inquiries would be forever stored in databases that could later place them under suspicion or be used to manipulate them financially.

    Persuading my kids to care about privacy wasn’t easy. To them, “privacy” was just a word that meant “no.” Privacy was the reason they couldn’t post videos on YouTube or sign up for kids’ social networks. Privacy is the reason I complained to their teachers about posting pictures of them on a blog that wasn’t password-protected. So I began my family privacy project by explaining to my daughter how strong passwords would let her keep secrets from me—and her nosy younger brother. […]

    To keep outside snoops away from the family iPad, we found an app from Brian Kennish, a former Google engineer who quit to build privacy-protecting software. His powerful Disconnect Kids app captured all the traffic leaving our iPad and blocked any contact with a list of known mobile tracking companies. I thought the app’s invisible whirring was quite clever, but Harriet was disappointed that it lacked a videogame aspect: She couldn’t see how many trackers it was blocking.

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