Tech and Web Safety
Technology is ever-changing, and it can be used to jeopardize your safety or to keep you safe. Since power and control issues are a part of domestic violence, abusive partners frequently use technology to monitor and control those they abuse. Here are some things to help keep in mind as you use technology.
Do you have a feeling that you are being monitored? Here are some things to make note of.
- Did you know that someone can monitor another person’s computer use without the user knowing?
- Did you know that a “history” cannot be completely erased from a computer?
- Did you know that cell phone use can be monitored?
- Did you know that a global positioning system (GPS) can be placed on your car, in your purse or in your cell phone?
- Did you know the some court systems are placing court records online and that they may contain personal information?
- Did you know that e-mail is like a postcard and can be intercepted?
As you surf the internet on your computer, the places you visit are stored on the computer you use. Bills you pay and purchases you make are tracked. Instant messages and emails can be retrieved. Keep in mind that as you use a computer, it might be monitored. Safe computers can be found at the local library, internet café, shelter, work or computer technology center. Always use safe computers when researching things such as travel plans, housing options, legal issues and safety plans.
Clearing Your History:
If you are doing research on how to leave or feel that your internet search history may be used to harm you, learn how to clear your history and erase your web activity. The following links are guides on how to delete your browsing history on the most common browser types:
- Google Chrome: https://support.google.com/chrome/answer/95589?co=GENIE.Platform%3DAndroid&hl=en
- Mozilla FireFox: https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/delete-browsing-search-download-history-firefox
- Apple Safari (the most common browser used on iPhones and Apple Devices):
- Microsoft Edge: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/10607/microsoft-edge-view-delete-browser-history
- Internet Explorer: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/17438/windows-internet-explorer-view-delete-browsing-history
Your abusive partner could have access to your email account. To be safe, open an email account your partner does not know about on a safe computer and use that account for safety planning and sensitive communications. It is a good idea to keep your monitored account active with non-critical emails in order to maintain appearances.
Cell phones can be a beacon, tracking your exact location in real time. Call and text history can also be retrieved by an abusive partner. Additionally, a location tracking device (GPS) can be placed on your car or in your purse. Consider purchasing a pay as you go phone that you keep in a safe place to allow you to make calls.
Only post things you want the public to see or know. Once it is online, it’s no longer under your control. Be protective of your personal information. Your phone numbers and addresses enable people to contact you directly, and things like your birth date, the schools you attended, your employer and photos with landmarks may make it easier for someone to find where you live, hang out or go to school. Set boundaries and limits. Tell people not to post personal information, negative comments, or check-ins about you on social media. Ask people not to post or tag pictures if you are not comfortable with it.
Keep your passwords private – there is no need to share passwords to social media accounts with anyone. If you have a friend in an abusive relationship DO NOT post information about them without getting their permission. You could jeopardize their safety.