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Online Safety

How to delete your online browsing history
If you're worried about someone knowing you have visited this website please read the following safety information.

Please note: the information below is for guidance only and may not completely cover your tracks. If you want to be completely sure of not being tracked online, the safest way would be to access the internet at a local library, an internet cafe, friend's house or at work.

How can an abuser discover your internet activities?
Computer spyware is becoming very easy to purchase and install on home computers. You may think that you are safe to access a home computer, not knowing that what you do is being tracked.

Abusers can also look at the history of sites you've visited easily. As a rule, internet browsers will save certain information as you surf the internet. This includes images from websites visited, words entered into search engines and a trail ('history') that reveals the sites you have visited. Below are instructions on how to minimise the chances of someone finding out that you have visited this website.

Warning about deleting cookies and address histories: It's important to state that there is a risk involved in removing data from your computer. For instance, if your partner uses online banking and has a saved password, then if you clear the cookies on your PC, your partner will realise you've done so, because their password will no longer be saved. Also, your partner may notice if the address history on the PC has been cleared, and this may raise suspicion.

How do I work out which browser I'm using? If you know what browser you are using, then skip to the relevant instructions below. If you do not know the type of browser you are using, click on Help on the toolbar at the top of the browser screen. A drop down menu will appear, the last entry will say About Internet Explorer, About Mozilla Firefox, or something similar. The entry refers to which browser type you are using - you should then refer to the relevant instructions below.

Instructions on how to delete history and cache from your PC:

Google Chrome

Click on the menu icon and go to History (or press ctrl+ H). Clear all browsing history by clicking what ever options suits you.
You can also use the Incognito mode by press Ctrl+Shift+N which allows you to use the search engine without saving any of your history.
Internet Explorer 6 (Find your version by selecting Help in the Internet explorer and clicking About Internet Explorer)
Click on the Tools menu and select Internet Options. On the General page, under Temporary Internet Files, click on Delete Cookies and then OK. Click on Delete Files, put a tick in the box labeled Delete all offline content and click OK. Under History, click on Clear History and then OK. Now look at the top of the window and click on the Content tab, select AutoComplete and finally, Clear Forms.

Internet Explorer 7
Click on the Tools menu and select Internet Options. In the General page under Browser History, select the Delete button. Either select and Delete each section: Temporary internet files; Cookies, History; Forms data and Passwords; or select the Delete all... button at the bottom to clear everything.

Firefox 1 (NOT /Netscape)
Click on Tools and then Options, then click on Privacy. Click on the Clear button next to History; Saved Form Information; Cookies and Cache.

Firefox 2
Click on Tools and then Options, then click on Privacy. At private data select settings, ensure that all boxes have been selected and then click on Clear Now. You can also access your history by pressing Ctrl+H.

Netscape 7
Click on the Edit menu and select Preferences. In the left pane, expand History then in the right area click Clear History. Next, expand Privacy and Security and select Cookies then on the button Manage Stored Cookies and in the new dialog box click Remove All Cookies. Then repeat similar for Forms and the Manage Stored Form Data button and the same for Passwords and the Manage Stored Passwords button. Aditionally, you may Manage Forms, Cookies and Passwords individually from the Tools menu - but not the temporary page Cache files.

Opera
Click on Tools and then Preferences. Click on the Advanced tab and then the History section on the left-hand side. Click the Clear button to the right of Addresses and the Empty Now button to the right of Disk cache. Opera does not have an easy wasy to clear all Cookies.

Safari (often used on Apple Macs, iPads, iPhones)
Resetting Safari clears the history, empties the cache, clears the Downloads window, and removes all cookies. It also removes any saved user names and passwords or other AutoFill data and clears Google/Yahoo search entries. To do this go to the Safari menu at top left hand screen. Choose Reset Safari, and click Reset.

Deleting your browsing history
Internet browsers also keep a record of all the web pages you visit. This is known as a 'history'. To delete history for Internet Explorer and Netscape/Firefox hold down the Ctrl key on the keyboard, then press the H key (Crtl, Alt and H for Opera). Find any entries that say www.womensaid.ie, right click and choose Delete. For Safari, select History at top of the screen and choose "Clear History"

Toolbars
Toolbars such as Google, AOL and Yahoo keep a record of the search words you have typed into the toolbar search box. In order to erase all the search words you have typed in, you will need to check the individual instructions for each type of toolbar. For example, for the Google toolbar all you need to do is click on the Google icon, and choose "Clear Search History".


Spyware

Perpetrators of domestic abuse are increasingly using spyware on home computers to track and intimidate their victims. Women with computers in their home need to be aware of the possibility that spyware may be downloaded on their PC, laptop or on their childrens' computers.

What is spyware?
Spyware is computer software that can be installed surreptitiously on a person's computer without their consent. The person who has installed the spyware can then access the computer remotely from another computer, and can monitor information input into that computer e.g. the user's visited webpages, emails, keystrokes etc.

Is it possible to tell if the computer has spyware on it?
It is often not possible to tell if the computer has spyware on it. A person being abused may realise that their abuser is using spyware because the abuser knows information that would be difficult to find out by any other means.

What should a person do if they suspect that their computer has spyware on it?

  • Use a computer at a public library or an internet cafe if you suspect there is any possibility of your abuser monitoring a home computer
  • Do not use home computers to raise any suspicion or give information to the abuser e.g. researching websites about domestic abuse, sending revealing emails to friends and family
  • Do not look up websites about removing spyware as this will raise suspicion
  • Do not attempt to remove the spyware as this will raise suspicion (also, the spyware could be used in evidence against the abuser in a court case)
  • If you have children who witness abuse or are also being abused, warn them not to use the home computer in relation to what is happening at home, but to use a friend's computer, the library or an internet cafe.


Email Safety

If someone has access to your e-mail account they may be able to read your incoming and outgoing mail:

  • Make sure you choose a password that someone will not be able to guess.
  • Change your password regularly.
  • Some e-mail programmes can automatically save addresses of mails you have sent and received, so check your address book and delete any contact details you fear could raise suspicions.

If someone sends you threatening or harassing e-mails make sure you print and save them. Although you may be tempted to delete them, especially if they are distressing, they are evidence and may help you prove that a criminal offence has been committed.

Be aware of how records of your emails can be accessed:

  • Any email you have previously sent will be stored in sent Items. Go to sent items and delete emails you don't want a person to see.
  • If you started an email but didn't finish it, it might be in your drafts folder. Go to the draft folder to delete it.
  • If you reply to any email, the original message will probably be in the body of the message - delete the email if you dont want anyone to see your original message.
  • hen you delete an item in any email program (Outlook Express, Outlook, Thunderbird etc) it does not really delete the item - it moves the item to a folder called Deleted Items. You have to delete the items in Deleted Items to remove them completely.
  • If there's a risk that your abuser may know how to access your emails, it's a good idea to set up a new email account. Use a provider like Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo for an account you can access from anywhere, and use a name that is not recognisable as you. Keep this email secret.


Phone Safety

If you suspect or know your phone usage is being monitored, there are a number of steps you may be able to take to cover your tracks. Please note, the information below is for guidance only and may not completely protect your privacy.

  • Always remember to delete text messages you have sent or received - unless they are messages sent by an abuser. If you receive threatening or harassing text messages, do not reply to them and keep them as they are evidence. The Gardaí can have these messages downloaded and printed.
  • If your phone stores delivery reports for text messages that you send, make sure to delete these also.
  • When making calls please note that traditional landline phones are more private than mobile phones or cordless phones. However it may not be appropriate to use a landline if the abuser has access to itemised bills.
  • Always remember to check the call register on your mobile or cordless phone and delete any numbers that could raise suspicions.
  • We would recommend that you avoid adding the Women's Aid helpline to your phone in case it is discovered by an abuser. However, if you feel you need to store the number add the number as a friend's contact number. That way, if it does show up on your call history it comes up as a call to a friend.

Blocking Numbers

02

'Block It'. It's a free service which helps to combat bullying on mobile phones. If you are an O2 customer you can block text, picture or video messages coming to you on your mobile phone. The service is easy to use and free of charge. All you do is just text Block It start to 50216 to get started. Read more here.

Meteor
Call Meteor on 1747 tell them the number you want blocked and Meteor will go ahead and block that number. For more information go to www.meteor.ie.

Vodafone
Vodafone has developed the 'Vodafone Safety Net' application for Android and some nokia phones. While this is primarily for parents and children tackling cyber bullying, it can also be used by anyone to block calls and texts from nuisance numbers. This is also available to customers with other mobile operaters. For more information and for a list of phones able to support the application, click here.
Generally, if your phone is unable to support the 'Vodafone Safety Net' application you can't block specific numbers on vodafone by calling them. However If you contact the Gardai they contact Vodafone through Vodafone's security department. Then they block the number.

eMobile
You can block numbers from calling or texting your eMobile phone, by calling Customer Care on 1800 69 00 00.
The terms and conditions of this service can be viewed here.

Postfone
Unfortunately, blocking numbers is not possible directly through the network.
However, many handsets sold by Postfone allow the user to block numbers. This is called a 'reject list' on Samsung models. These include:
Samsung Texto
Alcaltel
Samsung E1150
Samsung E1080
The customer service team can advise you on how to do this.
Customer care: 1850 789 789 (All calls cost 20c).

Tesco Mobile Ireland
Unfortunately, blocking numbers is not possible directly through the network.
Some handsets will give you the option to block certain numbers. This is called a 'reject list' on Samsung models.
You can find out what handsets have this option, or change your number by contacting Customer Care on 1749.


Has someone shared sexually explicit images of you without your consent?

The term 'revenge porn' covers the online posting of sexually explicit visual material, without the consent of the person portrayed. The term typically includes photographs and video clips which have been consensually generated-either jointly or by self (“sexting”), as well as content covertly recorded by a partner or unknown third party.

Things you should know:*

  • If private, sexually explicit material is posted online without your consent, notify the platform or website immediately.
  • There may be an online complaint button,: if so, use it and make clear in your online complaint that the material is an invasion of your privacy, and data protection rights, and has been uploaded without your consent.
  • If you know the person who uploaded the material, notify them also to take it down immediately for the same reasons.
  • Often however, the person may not be identified. Also, even if he or she takes it down, the material may have been posted to other sites. For that reason, you need to contact the platform such as Facebook or Twitter, or whatever website is hosting the material.
  • Take a screen shot of your complaint, so that you have a record of it, and send a written complaint to the platform or site, and the uploader, keeping a copy of your letters.

Things you could say:

  • The material was private: you did not give permission for it to be published online. It is an invasion of your privacy rights under the Constitution, the European Convention on Human Rights, and the Charter of Fundamental Rights.
  • If the material relates to persons who are under the age of 18 years, the material may be classed as child pornography. Possession or distribution by anyone of child pornography is a criminal offence.
  • You have a right of access, rectification and erasure in relation to personally sensitive data under the Data Protection Acts 1988-2003, so request the internet site to take it down under Data Protection laws.
  • If you are being blackmailed, or anyone is seeking money from you, or if you feel harassed, you can go to the Gardai to make a complaint.

*Please note that this is not legal advice. If you need legal advice, please consult a solicitor.

Violence against women is unacceptable!

We value all the help and support that we receive from organisations and individuals, and your financial support, whatever the amount, will help us to help those suffering domestic abuse. We all believe that violence against women is unacceptable.
Freephone helpline: 1800 203 136
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