Volume of privacy complaints filed by minors remains low

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is not yet working optimally when it comes to protecting the privacy of children. Of the 28,000 complaints received by the Dutch Data Protection Authority, only 1 per cent concerned the violation of the privacy of a minor user. This while children represent a third of the online user group. The Dutch Safer Internet Centre and the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) cooperated on a podcast on this theme. 

2021-02-17 Dutch Safer Internet Centre awareness data privacy organisations and industry, research, policy and decision makers
A woman sitting at a laptop and her son

This reality can be explained by a paradox: on the one hand, adults consider the privacy of children much more important than their own. At the same time, online privacy is not a topic that is addressed very much with children – and when it is, it is often done by creating an app or a system that is used by children. Addressing such concerns in the designing phase would be more effective. It also turns out to be very hard for children and young people to figure out how to file a complaint. They often need a parent's consent to make a complaint or request for data erasure, when in some cases the parent is the privacy violator themselves.

Protecting children by first requiring parental consent is, in many cases, counterproductive. Children are silenced this way because they cannot make their own decisions regarding their data. Consider an example in which a parent has posted a photo on social media against the will of the child. The child must then request permission from the same parent to submit a complaint or request for removal. You understand the difficult situation in which the child finds themselves.

Simone van der Hof, Professor of Law and Digital Technology at Leiden University, and Thijs Hannema, Attorney at Kennedy van der Laan are discussing possible solutions to this problem in the podcast “Digital children's rights and the GDPR: an innovation opportunity”. 

Visual for the podcast Digital children's rights and the GDPR with the logos of the Dutch Safer Internet Centre and the Internet Governance Forum

Click to listen to the podcast on Soundcloud

Find out more about the work of the Dutch Safer Internet Centre, including their awareness raising, helpline, hotline and youth participation services – or find similar information for Safer Internet Centres throughout Europe.

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