Canada Privacy Commissioner: We must protect kids’ digital rights

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada is highlighting the need to protect the privacy rights of children during Data Privacy Week (24-28 January).

Canada’s children and youth are growing up at a time of unprecedented technological change that carries with it ever-increasing risks for their privacy, so it is therefore vital that they be equipped with the critical thinking tools and awareness of online pitfalls.

Daniel Therrien, Privacy Commissioner of Canada, said: “Children are particularly vulnerable to privacy risks in the digital world and need the skills to safely navigate online. This is especially true during the pandemic when children are spending an increasing amount of time online, for school and socializing.”

The OPC is launching a number of resources in time for Data Privacy Week to help teach children the value of protecting their privacy, and develop the skills to do so:

  • Social Smarts: Nothing personal! – A graphic novel aimed at children aged 8-10, in which a talking smartphone serves as a girl’s guide through the sometimes tricky online world.
  • blog suggesting parents have a “family tech talk,” pointing to tools and discussion points on our website.

‘Awareness of online pitfalls’

The office has also been tweeting a data privacy tip each day this month. The issue of children’s privacy has received increased attention internationally in the past few years.

Data protection authorities from around the world recently adopted a resolution on children’s digital rights. Co-sponsored by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, the resolution notes that digital environment is particularly important to provide opportunities to children, but the digital sphere entails particular risks of infringement of their rights, and in particular their right to privacy.

Global data protection authorities earlier adopted a resolution highlighting the importance of an International Competency Framework on Privacy Education.

As well, the OECD Council Recommendation on Children in the Digital Environment calls on governments to show leadership to protect the best interests of children in the digital environment. For example, it says governments should promote digital literacy as an essential tool and encourage the adoption of measures that provide for age-appropriate child safety by design.

In the U.K., the Age Appropriate Design Code, or Children’s Code, came into effect last September. Created by the U.K.’s Information Commissioner’s Office, the Children’s Code is billed as a “data protection code of practice” that imposes standards on internet companies to make their products safer for children, to ensure that these companies respect children’s rights and act in children’s best interests.

Data Privacy Day, January 28, commemorates the 1981 signing of Convention 108, the first legally binding international treaty dealing with privacy and data protection. It has been expanded for the first time this year to Data Privacy Week, running from January 24-28.

Author: Simon Weedy

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