Protecting Children’s Privacy from Big Tech and Media Giants

This blog was written by EFA board member John Pane.

We all know what it’s like. The constant battle and negotiation with our children to get them off devices, do their homework, go to sleep, go get some fresh air and outdoors activity. 

As parents or carers we know our children are spending too much time online, on devices and gaming.  We also know that as adults we are directly responsible for protecting our children from spending too much time immersed in the digital world, and by doing so we can take positive steps to reduce the well known physical, emotional and psychological risks and impacts.

The internet, when it first became globally available in 1993, was a digital cubby house or treehouse for children. They could be themselves, socialise online  and interact with a reasonable degree of security, safety and privacy.

However the internet has changed a lot since its early days…. and for the worse.

In today’s digital age, our children are under constant online surveillance, subjected to relentless marketing tactics, closely monitored by data aggregators, coerced into making online purchases by eCommerce giants. Just like us, their personal information and interactions are being shamelessly exploited by data brokers, Big Tech companies, and media conglomerates.

To make things even scarier, Australia’s privacy legislation is not fit for purpose. It has failed to protect our children and their personal information from surveillance, exploitation, and monetization. It has failed to keep pace with the rapid pace of technology and the numerous covert data collection practices now widespread in the misleadingly named ‘Digital Economy’.

What can be done?

Electronic Frontiers Australia and other non-profits with an interest in children’s privacy and online safety have signed onto a brilliant grassroots campaign being led by Digital Rights Watch called ‘Parents for Privacy Reform‘.

This campaign is actively underway, and needs more signatures and public support in order to lobby the Commonwealth Attorney General to make long overdue changes to the Privacy Act 1988.

Your support can make a difference in securing timely and meaningful protections for children’s privacy and safety. The surveillance economy makes enough money from the grown ups. There’s no need for them to exploit our children as well.

(Image credit: iStock/luckat)

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