Children’s right to privacy essential in digital age

This Children’s Week, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) is reminding Australians of children’s right to privacy, enshrined in Article 16 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of a Child.

Australian Information Commissioner and Privacy Commissioner Angelene Falk said children’s right to privacy and the protection of their personal data is a key theme of the OAIC’s 2020 Australian Community Attitudes to Privacy Survey (ACAPS).

“Parents are telling us they are concerned about their children’s privacy, even more than their own privacy,” Commissioner Falk said.

“While we want our children to be empowered to use the internet and online services, we also want their data privacy to be protected.”

Key ACAPS findings on children’s privacy include:

  • 84% of Australian parents believe children should have the right to grow up without being profiled and targeted
  • 70% are uncomfortable with businesses tracking the location of a child without permission
  • 69% are uncomfortable with businesses obtaining personal information about a child and selling it to third parties
  • 82% of parents believe children must be empowered to use online services, but their data privacy must also be protected
  • 13 years is the average age parents believe children should be able to consent to handing over their personal information in exchange for an online service
  • Parents are very supportive of measures to increase the protection of their children’s privacy and educate children on these issues: 85% support the compulsory provision of important data privacy information to children in clear language that is not misleading

Commissioner Falk said protecting children’s privacy in the digital era is critical, and parents cannot take on this responsibility alone.

“We need to ensure that privacy safeguards keep pace with the speed of our transition to online life, and are appropriate for children,” she said.

“Our survey shows most parents strongly support limitations on business and devices to protect the data privacy of children online.

“Business needs to respond to these concerns and do more to meet community expectations by building in privacy safeguards by design.

“These insights are vital as we work towards a new privacy code for social media and online platforms.

“The binding code announced by the Australian Government will improve Australians’ ability to manage privacy choices through more transparency and better practices around consent, and will strengthen protections for children and other groups with particular needs.”

The full ACAPS report can be found at www.oaic.gov.au/acaps2020

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