Protect the digital rights and data security for the elderly

2 Dec 2022 06:30h - 08:00h

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Event report

It looked into the ways the international community should pay attention to the data security and personal information protection of elderly; measures to be developed to protect elderly in cyberspace; and ways to improve the participation and awareness of elderly concerning privacy and data protection. 

Insufficient digital literacy education for elderly has had a negative impact on online communication and medical services. Elderly are more likely to be victims of misinformation or fake news, or fraudulent links which results in abuse of their personal data. According to the statistics published by the European Union (EU) in 2021, more than 25% of Europeans aged between 65 to 74 have at least basic digital skills, while for the age between 16 to 24 it is more than 70%. Internet trends research in New Zealand identified that elderly awareness about the use of the internet increased from about 25% in 2007 to 60% in 2015.

The physical and psychological characteristics of vulnerable groups such as elderly should be considered to prevent them from being gradually marginalized in the digital world. Many smart devices, applications and services are not elderly-friendly enough or at all. According to a survey conducted by a university in China, more than 70% of elderly believe that the size and ledger of the devices do not conform to their physiological condition and it is to read text clearly. 

Panelists paid special attention to the situation in China. In recent years, the Chinese Government released the implementation plan on effectively solving the difficulties of the elderly using smart technology, and has carried out special activity on  elderly-oriented reform encouraging the elderly to use the internet. In order to safeguard the digital rights and data security for the elderly, the State Council formulated  almost 20 different policies to try to narrow the digital gap for the elderly. Three telecom carriers also initiated multiple  elderly support actions.

In 2022, the Cyberspace administration of China, along with other departments, jointly issued the 2022 work points for digital literacy and skills of the public. Following these policies, elderly-oriented reform practices were implemented on China’s smart devices and internet platforms, by for e.g. adding new listening functions to text messages in the instant messaging applications, introducing elderly mode for smartphones, and launching barrier-free access service on websites.

China has proposed to implement a national strategy to actively respond to aging, to help elderly adapt to the so-called intelligent era.  

An example of an online platform which strives to build an inclusive digital community, including the elderly, is Kuaishou platform. With more than 600 million active users currently,  Kuaishou strives to build an inclusive digital community. The platform established a data security system to safeguard personal privacy and data security, including protection of elderly rights. 

Improvements can be done on the international level. Some documents are already available, such as the recommendation F790 by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), which aims to enhance accessibility of information and telecommunication technology for older people and people with disabilities. Other initiatives which focus on elderly are technical standardization bodies, IETF, World Wide Web Consortium, etc.

Global action and consensus on concepts and rules is needed to safeguard the data security and overall digital security of elderly. Collaboration between the international community, local governments and internet companies is crucial. 

Developments on the international level are important. Their coordination is needed from national governance perspective to international organization perspective, and technical and standardization bodies.

By Aida Mahmutovic


The session in keywords

WS393 WORDCLOUD Protect the Digital Rights and Data Security for the Elderly IGF2022