Privacy and data protection


An article published on Forbes draws attention to the fact that "businesses often fail to adequately protect information" and significant amounts of data on children are leaking all over the Internet. Forbes points out to two significant cases; the leak of an unprotected database of three million accounts on sanriotown.com, the official online community for Hello Kitty and other Sanrio characters; and another leak of a database containing a mix of 20,000 accounts of parents and children, at the Major League Baseball Digital Academy site, where Little League kids can compare their swings and match data with the pros. 

Many statements at the WSIS High-Level Meeting on the WSIS Review plenary reiterated that rights offline apply online and included references to protecting freedom of expression and privacy rights. Discussion emerged on whether human rights and security are complementary or mutually exclusive. Lebanon, for example mentioned the tension between freedom of expression and preventing hate speech. The Outcome Document is available. GIP Digital Watch provided just-in-time reporting from the Meeting.

New EU data protection legislation, informally agreed on 15 December and backed by Civil Liberties MEPs on 17 December, will create a uniform set of rules across the EU fit for the digital era. It should also improve legal certainty and boost trust in the digital single market for citizens and businesses alike. Clear and affirmative consent to data processing, the right to be forgotten and strong fines for firms breaking the rules are some of the new features. See the full press release.

Giovanni Buttarelli, the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS), has said that the trade in commercial spyware threatens both privacy and data protection rights, and new policies must be formulated  to include covert monitoring technology, which is not yet regulated by existing European legislation, according to 'Things we should regulate: Spyware cowboys – EU Data Protection Supervisor'.

Lu Wei, director of the Cyberspace Administration of China, has presented the country's new Internet vision during the opening of an exhibition ahead of the World Internet Conference. According to Lu, China will manage cyberspace 'according to the rule of law, while providing more room for development based on the market'. Furthermore, the accelerating Internet-related legislation will continue in the area of cybersecurity and anti-terrorism laws, as well as related to the protection of privacy.

As it continues to work on the draft European Data Protection Regulation, the European Parliament Committee on civil liberties and home affairs is considering an amendament that reads: 'The processing of personal data of a child below the age of 16 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.' This could mean that online companies such as social media networks would have to make sure that children below 16 can only use their services with their parents' consent. There are, however, child safety experts who outline the fact that such a measure risks of making children even more vulnerable, while noting that changing the age limit 'would deprive young people of educational and social opportunities in a number of ways, yet would provide no more (and likely even less) protection'. According to BBC, the Committee is set to discuss and decide on the amendment this week.



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