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Using websites and playing apps online is very popular with Australian children.
But, is their privacy protected when they are doing this? The short answer is NO.
For concise information on this and other important questions, read on.
For more detailed information, click here.
YES, it is!
In the short term, apps can gather children's data and use it to identify and locate them; can build children's profiles by tracking their likes and dislikes so as to keep them attached and sell them things; and can expose them to personal harm through cyberbullying and social grooming.
In the long term, data collected over childhood and adolescence can be used against them in adulthood, for example when seeking placement in a desired course of study or selection for a “dream” job.
Right now, no one but you is protecting your children's privacy when using websites or online apps.
So what can you do?
Martha explains what information is being collected
The Commonwealth Privacy Act 1988 provides protection for a range of personal information based on 13 principles (the Australian Privacy Principles, or APPs ). These govern the collection, storage, use and disclosure of personal information, as well as providing individuals with certain rights to access their personal information and correct errors. If you can establish a breach of an APP in relation to your information, you might get an apology and/or compensation and/or an amendment to the record. Some information is considered especially sensitive, but this doesn’t include children’s information as such. Generally, there is no special provision for the protection for children’s information.
There are three government agencies with responsibility connected to the protection of privacy:
While currently there are ongoing law reform activities relevant to children's interaction with online commercial entertainment media [see What can I do to influence decision makers to improve Australia's privacy protection laws section below] at this point in time, it is a fact that Australian privacy law does not cater to the special needs of children who use websites and online apps.
It is reasonable to expect that . . .
You can . . .
Practical guides to privacy protections online, and to safety checks for children's apps.
This project Traps with apps: a guide to online privacy for parents and families has been made possible by a grant from the Law Foundation of SA. ACCM thanks the Foundation for this support.
ACCM acknowledges Dr Susannah Sage-Jacobson for her legal research which has contributed to this project.
The project has the dual purpose of supporting families in protecting their children's privacy online; and empowering them to participate in law reform aimed at strengthening the current provisions.