Another important step towards protecting children’s online privacy

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Last week, an important resolution brought forward by our office was passed at the International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners in Strasbourg, France. The resolution calls for an international effort to protect the privacy of children online.

Young people today are using the Internet to communicate in numbers that rival the telephone. The resolution stresses that while many young people recognize the risks associated with their online activities, they often lack the experience, technical knowledge and tools to mitigate those risks. In addition, they are sometimes unaware of their own legal rights. The resolution was cosponsored by data protection authorities (DPAs) from New Zealand, France, Ireland, Berlin and the United Kingdom.

The DPAs agree that a global commitment to education and increasing awareness is needed to ensure that children and young people around the world have access to a safe online environment respectful of their privacy. They are also calling on industry to take greater responsibility for protecting user privacy in the online environments they create for children.

This resolution is one more important step towards protecting our children’s online privacy. Earlier this year, in Canada, the federal, provincial and territorial privacy commissioners and ombudspersons issued a joint resolution expressing their commitment to work together to improve the state of online privacy for children and young people. In addition, the provincial Commissioners responsible for privacy are working with teachers and Ministries of Education to build information and advice into the materials presented to Canadian students. Further inroads are being made internationally as well. Ireland and the Asia-Pacific countries held video contests for kids around the issue of privacy; Spain released a booklet on privacy for parents and children; and Norway has created books and videos on the subject.

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