"Browsing the web safely and privately is concern for many people. A good general rule is that nothing online is private. Another general rule is that you can’t be completely anonymous online" (NNEDV SafetyNet Project, 2010)
The internet is a treasure trove of information about individuals. Information can be shared by individuals through social media and their online activities; through marketers and information brokers; and through institutions such as employers, government, and schools. Some victims of violence may have higher privacy risks than other individuals. The resources below offer information on protecting the privacy and security of sensitive and personal information on the Web.
Computers & Networks
Public Records & Address Confidentiality
Address Confidentiality Programs (ACPs) and Confidential Voter Listings are state-administered programs that allow victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking or other types of crime to receive mail at a confidential address, while keeping their actual address undisclosed. While ACPs generally provide a substitute address for all public records, Confidential Voter Listings only provide confidentiality on election-related public records. Over half of the states in the country now offer these life-saving programs (NRCDV, 2012).
Social Security & Identity Change
Obtaining a new social security number and establishing a new identity is one safety protection available to victims of domestic violence that may be life saving. However, there are many issues to carefully consider before pursuing this option, which are reviewed in the resources below.
Advertisers and marketers are constantly searching for information about individuals. This information can become available online for anyone to access, including abusers, perpetrators and stalkers. This short video below from the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) reviews the ways that search companies and advertisers collect, track, use, and sell your personal data.
VAWA 2005 included enhanced protections for victim information in multiple arenas, including in public records and databases. With this provision, Congress clarified and affirmed existing confidentiality practices that protect the safety and privacy of victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking (NNEDV, 2006). Effective April 21, 2000, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) gives parents control over what personal information websites can collect from their children under 13. The resources below provide additional detail on these important legal protections.