Is personal data ‘mine’ or there to be ‘mined’?

7 Dec 2016 11:45h - 12:45h

Event report

[Read more session reports and live updates from the 11th Internet Governance Forum]

Mr David Wright, UK Safe Business Centre and European Insafe Network, opened the session with an overview of the Insafe network and the work in raising awareness of child safety issues. Wright mentioned Safe Internet Day as a great opportunity to raise awareness about online safety. He examined our appetite for free apps. He looked at young people who make use of social media and mobile apps and questioned what legislation and regulation would protect their personal data.

Mr John Carr, of the UK Coalition for Child and Internet Safety, began discussing children as actors in the online eCommerce space. A recent European NGO Allicance publication showed 90% of app revenues coming from those listed as free. Carr raised Article 8 of the European Union’s GDPR which introduces a default age of 18 for young people without parental consent. Each member state is allowed to set the minimum age once above 13, which leaves uncertainty regarding young people communicating across national boundaries.

Prof. Sonia Livingston, from the London school of economics and political science, reviewed data of children’s social media usage in the UK by age which showed almost half of 11-12 year olds using social media. However, with this large usage the children were found unaware of the role of advertising in free online services. She advocated for a consideration of these young people’s digital development through civic action like signing a petition, creative activities with music and videos in the context of the default age.

Mr Auke Pals, Youth Representative of European Digital Youth, shared his perspective on child protection and free services. He advocated for the non-collection of data for those under 18.

Mr Larry Magid, CEO of Connect Safely.Org, spoke on the tension between protecting children and protecting children’s rights. Magid spoke of the vast data collected on children in the US by the school system. He raised the point of school sanctioned cloud based applications where the data stored by large corporations is actually the children’s property. Magid mentioned the FERPA legislation which protects the parent’s right to review the child’s records but does not directly protect the child’s rights.

Prof. Kathryn Montgomery, Director of Communication Studies at American University, gave an overview of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule COPPA established in the 1990’s which was updated recently to include social media. Montgomery zeroed in on Big Data and data monetisation and personalisation. She sees the challenges to the traditional models of notice and consent but welcomed the opportunity to discuss building safeguards for children in the digital marketplace.

Ms Marsali Hancock, of, highlighted that everything done online shapes our future web experience. Hancock also addressed the US school system and how children do not have choices about the sharing of their data. She called for more transparency and accountability around the products chosen by educators.

Ms Ana Neves, Director at the Department of Information Society, Science & Technology Foundation, began examining data collected by companies and metadata, which is data that gives information about other data, within the context of our children’s digital socialization. Neves expressed that the ease of the digital experience does not mean that children understand the terms of service for use of the applications. She asked until what age should a user be considered a child and cautioned that users having full control over their data requires capacity building and preparation of users through training.

Ms Louise Marie Hurel, Researcher at the Centre for Technology and Society Brazil, spoke on how ICTs have become a crucial part of many person’s lives. Hurel reviewed the migration from simpler mobile phones to rich online experiences that children are exposed to where privacy and security are not central. She referenced Brazil where 87% of children and adolescents have social network accounts. She advocated for the promotion of safe spaces and collaborative interaction saying the responsibilities were between parents, teachers and caregivers.

Mr Juan Pedro, from Portugal, asked about terms and conditions and the empowerment of users to understand what is being given up. Carr and Montgomery responded saying that companies have a right to make money under clear regulatory circumstances with corporate responsibilities to young people. 

by Andre Edwards, Trinidad and Tobago