Just before this blog had a theme reboot, I blogged about the security of our photos online. Now by ‘security’ I’m not referring to whether our photos would not be destroyed or lost forever thanks to unreliable photo hosting or social media sites or when they suddenly close up shop. The security I’m talking about here is whether the photos we upload online are just viewed by our family, friends and the public, and not used for anything else we might not approve or worse, malign our persons and names.
Meredith, a non-blogger and parent has expressed concern in her comment, saying that she’s looking for a site that offers better privacy for her photos. Another non-blogger, Janet has recommended Pixamo, that according to her has reliable feature that limits access to your photos and videos to certain groups that you identify.
While fellow bloggers Ade and Kat has seen their share of how vulnerable our online photos could be and the horrible effects on innocent victims, Jam and Laice reminds us to be more careful, albeit choosy, as to which photos to upload and which ones to just keep offline.
What’s the point?
Our security and peace of mind. Not to mention, as I’ve pointed out earlier, our reputation, name and very lives. Social media sites, as we are well aware nowadays have not only become online hubs for people from practically every age bracket to meet and socialize, it has also become the new ‘hunting grounds’ or gold mine for sex offenders, stalkers, cyber-bullies and other nasties. The first thing they commonly start with, our very own photos.
An arms race
With the rise of sex-related and other crimes that has stemmed from the internet, law agencies and governments have been struggling to find solutions to stop these cyber-crimes. However, it seems that technology, the internet and people with really bad intentions are always managing to get one step ahead of law elements.
One such effort is from New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo who announced a proposed new state legislation to protect underage Internet users. The measure is called “Electronic Security and Targeting of Online Predators Act or E-STOP.
E-STOP requires paroled sex offenders to submit their e-mail addresses and online identities to a central registry that will be used to deny them access to social networking sites. The bill also would forbid sex offenders, on parole or probation, from communicating online with anyone under the age of 18 if the offender is classified level 3 (high-risk of re-offending) or if the offender’s crime involved the Internet or a minor.
An Achilles’ Heal
The proposed legislation is a good measure, I think only for its intents and purposes. However, it’s effectiveness is in question as one can easily see that there’s one critical flaw with it: Anyone can register for a new e-mail address and switch among them as easy as changing one’s underwear.
If I were a sex-offender and my e-mail address, online identity, alias etc. is on the said state registry of online baddies, I’d just get a new one. It’s so easy to create a new identity online nowadays thanks to again, technology itself.
Another flaw with E-STOP is that it could be abused, say I use a friend or just make-up an e-mail address once the authorities ask for it or a website that integrates online features of E-STOP, and presto! I just fooled the system and the poor guy whose email I just used is now a member of the cyber-baddies club.
So what now?
Let’s work together. Both the online public, the social media sites and governments to combat cyber-crimes. Parents should continue and actively get involved in the way their children use the internet, especially if they are minors. Remember, the “Parental Guidance” idea is not limited to TV viewing.
Teens and young adults, the bulk of online users and victims of these cyber-crimes must think twice before uploading photos, videos even text to the blogs and social media sites. Use the site’s privacy and security features to the max, you’re old enough to know that every decision you make will have consequences.
As for the government, any government, it must really exert effort to know the internet and the technologies involved with it so that measures, laws and policies are effective, practicable and sound. It’s high time to get out of the Jurassic age and into the Web 2.0 world. After all, what are we citizens paying taxes for?
Have your say
Having said enough at this point, I’d like to hear from you dear readers what you think and what do you do keep yourself safe and the internet a safer place to be in. Stay safe!