June 4, 2008
As a human being, every child has a right to privacy.
The vast majority of Canadian children and young people are online, connecting to the Internet from their homes, their schools, and increasingly, from their wireless devices. They are predominantly using the Internet for social interaction – sharing their own photos and videos, discussing what is happening in their lives, and interacting with others.
In doing so, young people must navigate the challenges of protecting their personal information online. In addition to the safety risks inherent in posting personal information online, many popular kids’ sites collect personal information and use it for marketing purposes.
This is compounded by the fact that privacy policies for many websites are typically written in a specialized language that is difficult to understand.
While many young people recognize the risks associated with their online activities, they lack the knowledge and the tools to mitigate those risks.
Canada’s privacy commissioners wish to improve the state of privacy as it pertains to the online activities of children and young people.
This approach is education-based, and should be improved by cooperation and partnership among commissioners, governments, industry and organizations dedicated to improving the well-being of children.
This positive approach will complement the extensive public education efforts already underway in several provinces in partnership with their respective ministries of education and school boards.
IN THIS CONTEXT, CANADA’S PRIVACY COMMISSIONERS AND PRIVACY ENFORCEMENT OFFICIALS (“COMMISSIONERS”) RESOLVE AS FOLLOWS:
The Commissioners will work together to implement public education activities meant to increase awareness among children and young people of the privacy risks inherent to their online activities.
The Commissioners recommend to governments, industry, child and youth advocates, ombudsmen and other institutions and organizations dedicated to improving children’s well-being to work in partnership to develop and disseminate public education tools to individuals who work with and influence children every day, including their parents, care providers and teachers.
The Commissioners responsible for private sector privacy laws (Alberta, British Columbia, Quebec and Canada) urge industry to adopt the highest standard of privacy possible when developing online environments targeted at children and young people.
The Commissioners urge operators of websites created for children and young people to demonstrate their social responsibility in adopting privacy policies and usage agreements that are clear, simple, and understandable to the user, and educating their users of existing privacy and security risks.
The Commissioners will develop guidance for industry to assist operators of websites for children and youth in the development of better privacy practices.
Children and young people should expect that organizations operating online environments comply with privacy laws. If they believe their personal information has been mishandled, they have the right to lodge a complaint with the appropriate commissioner and seek resolution.
Finally, Canadian Commissioners wish to work with data protection regulators from other countries to ensure that children and young people around the world have access to a safe online environment respectful of their privacy.
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