Focus on data protection

The fifth edition of the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) bulletin has now been published with a focus on the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and, specifically, whether it will help to create a better internet for children and young people. We have some great opinion pieces on the topic from a range of experts.

On 15 December 2015, the European Commission announced – with a tangible sense of relief and delight – it had found an agreement with the European Parliament and the Council on the EU Data Protection Reform initiated in 2012 in order to make Europe fit for the digital age by putting an end to the current patchwork of data protection rules.
 
Andrus Ansip, Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, said: "Today's agreement is a major step towards a Digital Single Market. It will remove barriers and unlock opportunities. The digital future of Europe can only be built on trust. With solid common standards for data protection, people can be sure they are in control of their personal information. And they can enjoy all the services and opportunities of a Digital Single Market." Věra Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality added, "Today we deliver on the promise of the Juncker Commission to finalise data protection reform in 2015. These new pan-European rules are good for citizens and good for businesses. Citizens and businesses will profit from clear rules that are fit for the digital age, that give strong protection and at the same time create opportunities and encourage innovation in a European Digital Single Market."
 
Protecting children's and young people's data privacy underpins much of the work done by child-safety advocates. Therefore, stakeholders in the Better Internet for Kids agenda would surely applaud any such reform, right? Perhaps not… Because indeed, a media storm broke out in the eleventh hour, with international headlines suggesting ‘Europe is going to ban teenagers from Facebook and the internet'. As you will read further on in this BIK bulletin, reality (not to mention EU decision making) is a bit more complex. But still, it did make us wonder: did EU politicians and policy makers consider the specific rights and needs of children, both in terms of protection from harm as well as the right to access and use digital media?
 
Rather than trying to come up with a comprehensive answer ourselves, we reached out to a fine selection of experts with different backgrounds, asking them to respond, based on the current compromise text, to a simple question: Will the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) help to create a better internet for kids? (Yes/No, and why?). From the start, we were keen not to shape their perspectives, nor did we explicitly ask them to focus on the now famous Article 8 which states that "in relation to the offering of information society services directly to a child, the processing of personal data of a child below the age of 16 years, or if provided for by Member State law a lower age which shall not be below 13 years, shall only be lawful if and to the extent that such consent is given or authorised by the holder of parental responsibility over the child." To be sure, the minimum age of consent figures prominently across the various accounts given. And we have to admit, the combined depth and quality of contributions, goes well beyond what any single person could have come up with:
  • Professor Sonia Livingstone OBE, professor in the Department of Media and Communications at LSE, reflects on the question of whether the GDPR means no more social networking for teens.
  • John Carr OBE, Expert Adviser to the European NGO Alliance for Child Safety Online (eNACSO) and others, reflects more so on the decision-making processes behind the GDPR in his article titled ‘Poor process, bad outcomes'.
  • Writing on behalf of COFACE (Confederation of Family Organisations in the EU), Policy Officer Martin Schmalzried argues that the GDPR is a flexible step in the right direction.
  • In a similar vein, Gloria González Fuster, a research professor at the Law, Science, Technology and Society (LSTS) Research Group of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), argues that the GDPR will help to create a better internet for kids… but only if we all work on it!
  • Joe McNamee, Executive Director of European Digital Rights, gives his view on the progress of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)and thinks that, while much has been done in the legislative phases, there is still a long way to go before it comes into force.
  • Recognising the importance of hearing the voice of youth in decisions that affect them, Auke Pals, 19, a part-time high school student, member of the Dutch Digital Youth Council, and a youth representative of European Digital Youth, shares his views.
Important as critical scrutiny and reflection may be, from an awareness-raising point of view, the biggest challenge out there is to translate EU policy discussions into a language which speaks to children, young people, teachers, parents and carers. In a previous BIK bulletin, we already showcased the excellent Finnish Safer Internet Centre resource ‘Digital Gold Miners', providing information and activities regarding big data on the internet, with a particular focus on how data is collected from internet users and how it might be subsequently used. We are now delighted to present a broader range of awareness-raising resources and activities on data protection, again coming from Insafe network members directly:
  • Austria: Data protection: How to protect one's privacy on Instagram and Snapchat... with step-by-step privacy guidelines.
  • Denmark: Debating data protection with Danish adolescents.
  • Greece: Is it true that the data we post online remains on the web forever?
  • Hungary: Data protection among children and young adults.
  • Luxembourg: That data, actually OUR data, in the Cloud.
  • UK: Helping schools with data protection compliance.
Following the political agreement reached in trilogue, the final texts of the GDPR will be formally adopted by the European Parliament and Council later in 2016. The new data protection rules will become applicable two years thereafter. The extent to which the GDPR will help to create a better internet for kids will largely depend on how this EU regulatory framework is implemented (and enforced) across EU Member States. We hope that this BIK bulletin will help to set the scene for an informed yet vibrant discussion at the national level, bringing together the full variety of public and private stakeholders, including children, young people, parents, teachers and carers.
 
Read the full BIK bulletin here, and subscribe now to receive future editions direct to your mailbox.

Related news

Raising awareness of data protection

Data Protection Day (or Data Privacy Day, as it is known outside of Europe) is a global, annual celebration marking the anniversary of the signing of the Council of Europe's Convention 108, the first legally binding international treaty dealing with privacy and data protection, on 28 January 1981. In line with this, in April 2006, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe launched Data Protection Day, celebrated ever since on 28 January.

New EU rules on data protection approved at the European Parliament

  • News
  • 14/04/2016
  • BIK team

Today, the European Parliament has adopted new EU data protection legislation replacing the 1995 EU Data Protection Directive. Proposed by the European Commission in 2012 and agreed upon by the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission in December 2015, the new legislation has designed a set of rules providing citizens with more information and control over their own private information in the digital age, including protecting and expanding the scope of the right to be forgotten ruling in law. Additionally, the legislation aims to ease the process of setting up companies envisaging to strengthen the development of the Digital Single Market.

Better Internet for Kids (BIK) bulletin

The Better Internet for Kids (BIK) bulletin is a quarterly electronic newsletter with the aim of keeping you informed on better internet issues.

GDPR: we all need to work at it!

  • Awareness
  • 31/03/2016
  • Gloria González Fuster (LSTS)

In this article, we hear from Gloria González Fuster, a Research Professor at the Law, Science, Technology and Society (LSTS) Research Group of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), on whether the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will help to create a better internet for kids? She argues yes… but only if we all work on it!

GDPR: We might not be quite finished just yet

In this article, Joe McNamee, Executive Director of European Digital Rights, an association of digital civil rights organisations from across Europe, gives his view on the progress of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). He thinks that, while much has been done in the legislative phases, there is still a long way to go before it comes into force.

GDPR from a youth perspective

  • Awareness
  • 31/03/2016
  • Auke Pals (Youth representative)
Auke Pals, 19, is a part-time high school student, a member of the Dutch Digital Youth Council, and a youth representative of European Digital Youth. Here, he provides his view on whether the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will help to create a better internet for young people.
 

GDPR: A ‘flexible' step in the right direction

  • Awareness
  • 31/03/2016
  • Martin Schmalzried (COFACE)

In this article, we hear from Martin Schmalzried of COFACE (Confederation of Family Organisations in the EU) on how the provisions of the new General Data Protection Regulation will affect children and young people.

John Carr on the GDPR: Poor process, bad outcomes

In this article, we hear from John Carr OBE on how the provisions of the new General Data Protection Regulation will affect children and young people.

Sonia Livingstone on the GDPR: No more social networking for teens?

In this article, we hear from Professor Sonia Livingstone OBE on how the provisions of the new General Data Protection Regulation will affect children and young people.