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ARCHIVED - Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada Highlights Youth Privacy on the 20th Anniversary of the Convention on the Human Rights of the Child

On National Child Day, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada urges Canadians to remember that the right to privacy is an essential element of ensuring children’s well-being and healthy development.

OTTAWA, November 20, 2009 — On the 20th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Human Rights of the Child, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, Jennifer Stoddart, is advising Canadians to think about how young people are integrating the Internet and its services into their daily lives, because many young people are unaware of the privacy risks that are involved.

This is especially important as young Canadians undertake more activities online, an environment where they frequently give up personal information without thinking about possible consequences. Studies conducted by the Media Awareness Network revealed that 80 per cent of young people are alone when they use the Internet; A 2008 study by Kids Help Line found that 40 per cent of youth were willing to give out personal information to someone they only knew online.

“Twenty years ago today, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention of the Rights of the Child and made privacy a basic human right for everyone under the age of 18,” says Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart.

“We need to empower our young people with the tools they need to enjoy the many benefits of the Internet while also protecting their privacy. In today’s wired world this issue is more important than ever before. Kids are doing things online that their parents would never have dreamed possible – instant messaging, downloading music, social networking, playing games, just to name a few.”

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada has made youth privacy a priority and is making a concerted effort to reach out to young people. The Office has found that young Canadians do not want greater censorship or surveillance – what they want is a chance to make informed decisions about the sites they visit and what they do there.

“Our message to kids is to simply think before they click when they are online,” says Ms. Stoddart. “We tell them – before you post a picture, before you disclose a personal detail like your birthday or where you are going to be that evening – think about it first. Is it OK if that information is up there for the entire world to see? If you have any doubts, don’t post it.”

Child privacy online is a concern that is seizing data protection authorities across Canada and around the world.

“This issue is one we share with our national and international partners,” she says. “We are working with these partners to find solutions and tools to empower young people around the world.”

For more information on the Government of Canada’s activities in support of National Child Day, visit http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/ncd-jne/kit-eng.php

For more information about the Office of the Privacy Commissioner’s resources for young people who want to protect their privacy while online visit youthprivacy.ca.

The Privacy Commissioner of Canada is mandated by Parliament to act as an ombudsman, advocate and guardian of privacy and the protection of personal information rights of Canadians.

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For more information, contact:

Colin McKay
Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada
Tel: (613) 947-7226
E-mail: cmckay@priv.gc.ca