Something to think about

All of the early thinking about the internet – thinking which determined how it was set up at a fairly fundamental level – was framed by a belief that overwhelmingly the future users would be highly educated, therefore literate and numerate, responsible adults. However, now we know across the world one in three of all human internet users is a child. This rises to about one in two in many lower income countries and these have large populations. In the UK and other richer nations the proportion hovers around one in five.  Whichever way you look at it, everywhere children are a substantial and persistent body of internet users.

The 5 Rights Foundation is doing a great job in getting us all to think about the data protection implications of children being such a huge constituency. In doing so it points out they are only following what, in Recital 38, the GDPR declared to be self-evident: “Children merit specific protection with regard to their personal data”.

In their latest publication 5 Rights tells us these matters have become urgent. Why? Because the UK’s Information Commissioner has issued its proposed “Age Appropriate Design Code”, as required by the Digital Economy Act. 2017.

There has been a lot of industry push back in respect of parts of it but 5 Rights suggests this is to some degree a product of confusing issues about age appropriate content with issues of age related data protection standards. Is this a distinction which is easy to see at a conceptual level but which, in reality, is hard to implement at a practical one?

Thinking caps on please. 5 Rights have proposed an interesting way out.

About John Carr

John Carr is one of the world's leading authorities on children's and young people's use of digital technologies. He is Senior Technical Adviser to Bangkok-based global NGO ECPAT International, Technical Adviser to the European NGO Alliance for Child Safety Online, which is administered by Save the Children Italy and an Advisory Council Member of Beyond Borders (Canada). Amongst other things John is or has been an Adviser to the United Nations, ITU, the European Union, the Council of Europe and European Union Agency for Network and Information Security and is a former Executive Board Member of the UK Council for Child Internet Safety. He is Secretary of the UK's Children's Charities' Coalition on Internet Safety. John has advised many of the world's largest internet companies on online child safety. In June, 2012, John was appointed a Visiting Senior Fellow at the London School of Economics and Political Science. This was renewed in 2018. More:
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