Being Connected

Connection is Great… Most of The Time

Let’s face it. We have become a very connected society. We connect with our friends and even people we may not know very well. We shop, bank, play games, do homework, and pay bills on all kinds of electronic devices – computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. But being online involves some risks and it’s important to learn how to be a safe, savvy, and protected online citizen.

Online Safety

Think before you share. Ask yourself: would you want the words you write or the photos you share to be seen by a teacher, your parents, a college recruiter, or a potential employer?

Limit what you share. It’s OK to curtail what others see and what information you allow websites and apps to collect about you. Learn how to use the privacy, security, and geotagging settings for your devices.

Follow the Golden Rule. Treat people with the same courtesy and respect you would want and don’t say things online that you wouldn’t say in person. If someone is harassing or threatening you online, you have the right to report or block them.

Knowing someone online is not the same as knowing them. Are you sure that the person you are sharing your innermost secrets with is who they say they are? Avoid revealing personal information, such as your name, your phone number, where you live, or where you go to school to anyone you meet online. The person may not be anything like they portray themselves in your online friendship and may have dangerous motives.

Work Computers

Your work computer and e-mail address belong to your employer, not to you. You should not expect privacy when you use your work computer to send e-mails and use the Internet. You should check with your employer or read your employee handbook regarding the privacy policy for your particular workplace.

Online Theft

The law prohibits:

  • Pirating or downloading copyrighted material (such as music) without authorization. Under federal law, criminal copyright infringement is punishable by both a hefty fine and a possible prison sentence.
  • Accessing someone else’s computer without authorization or introducing a virus to another computer or computer network.
  • Disrupting or denying access to the authorized users of a computer or deleting, damaging, or destroying systems, networks, programs, databases, or components of computers without authorization.
  • Devising and executing schemes to obtain money, property, or services with false or fraudulent intent through a computer.

Other Important Laws

Child Pornography: Accessing, possessing, or sharing child pornography (any matter depicting a person under the age of 18 engaged in or simulating sexual conduct) is a felony and can be punished by up to 30 years in prison and a fine up to $50,000. This includes websites, or e-mails and text messages with an attached photo containing child pornography. If you receive such a message you should consider filing a report with the CyberTip Line at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and delete the message.

Cyberbullying: Cyberbullying is the use of electronic communication to bully a person, typically by sending intimidating or threatening messages that cause emotional distress or fear. In Idaho, it’s a form of stalking that can be a felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison, up to $10,000 in fines, or both.

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