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International Data Protection Authorities Call for Action to Protect Children’s Online Privacy

Ottawa, October 20, 2008 — International data protection authorities (DPAs) concluded their annual meeting in Strasbourg, France by endorsing a resolution brought forward by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada that called for an international effort to protect the privacy of children online.

“Young people today are sophisticated users of the Internet, and they use this medium with ease and enthusiasm,” says Jennifer Stoddart, Canada’s Privacy Commissioner. While the opportunities are tremendous, we must ensure that they understand the impact that these technologies can have on their privacy, and provide them with the tools and information they need to make smart decisions.”

The resolution, which was cosponsored by DPAs from New Zealand, France, Ireland, Berlin, and the United Kingdom, acknowledges 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 DPAs found 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.

In Canada, the federal, provincial and territorial privacy commissioners and ombudspersons have grown increasingly concerned about the impact of Internet use on the private lives of children, and have been working to address this issue. Earlier this year, they issued a joint resolution expressing their commitment to work together to improve the state of online privacy for children and young people. The resolution builds on the work that many of the provinces and territories have undertaken with their respective ministries of education and local authorities to increase awareness and knowledge of this issue. They also launched youthprivacy.ca, a Web site that offers advice about how youth can protect their personal information and take charge of how their identity is being shaped online. The site features a blog where young Canadians can discuss how technology is affecting their privacy, and a new interactive privacy quiz.

DPAs from every continent gathered in Strasbourg last week to participate in the 30th International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners (www.privacyconference2008.org). The theme of this year’s conference was “protecting privacy in a borderless world”. The aim of the conference was to identify major challenges arising from the fact that privacy in an international context is subject to powerful technological, political, legal and economic developments. In addition to the resolution on children’s online privacy, the DPAs also adopted a number of other resolutions at the Conference and these will be posted on the conference Web site.

Accredited data protection authorities are considered premier experts on the principles and practice of data protection and privacy in their jurisdiction. They are also recognized as being independent with a clear mandate to promote and protect data protection and privacy across a wide sphere of activity.

The 30th International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners was jointly hosted by the President of the French Data Protection Authority and the German Federal Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information in Strasbourg, France. The annual conference, which brings together 78 DPAs and privacy commissioners from every continent, took place from October 15 to October 17.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada is mandated by Parliament to act as an ombudsman, advocate and guardian of privacy rights in Canada.

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For more information and/or media interview requests, contact:

Heather Ormerod
Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada
Tel: (613) 995-1048
Email: hormerod@priv.gc.ca

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