A digital footprint is a trail of data you create while using the Internet. It includes the websites you visit, emails you send, and information you submit to online services.

A passive digital footprint is a data trail you unintentionally leave online. Websites that install cookies on your devices, apps and websites that use your geolocation, and social media that uses your likes, shares and comments to profile you are examples of a passive digital footprint.

Most people create a digital footprint when they use online services.

They may actively publish their own information by sharing – for example publishing personal information or images about a holiday, interest or event. And they may passively – often unintentionally – contribute metadata to the services they make use of. This could include their device IP address, browsing behaviour and ‘loyalty’ to any service that tracks individual or anonymised user information.

The most common forms of risk reported to Netsafe related to individual digital footprints are:

  • Publishing or sharing information that results in harm to reputation, such as loss of employment.
  • Publishing personal information that leads to online bullying or harassment.


There are a few tips you can take to protect your digital footprint:

  • Value your personal information
  • Be cautious about what you publish and where you share
  • Think about your online privacy and review platform settings.
  • Manage your reputation – evaluate what the impact could be when publishing a photo, status update, comment or review before you post it.
  • Stop and think about the effect it could have on you and those around you longer term.

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