NewsSeptember  (18)

Fundamental Rights Forum: protecting children’s privacy online

On the 25-26-27th of September, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) held the 2018 edition of the Fundamental Rights Forum. Michael O’Flaherty, Director of FRA and DG JUST Commissioner Věra Jourová opened the conference, underlining the key challenges that we are facing, including terrorism, mounting populism, politically motivated assassination of journalists, broadening inequalities and migration and refugees.

On the European legislative side, Commissioner Jourová mentioned the work done on the fair trial Directive, the Audiovisual media services Directive, the EU data protection rules, the work-life balance Directive and work on gender pay gap. Her speech focused on preventing the spread of fear and fear-mongering, especially for political reasons, which was at the heart of many of the challenges that Europe and more generally, the world faces today.

COFACE-Families Europe was invited to speak during one of the workshops, hosted by the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS), dealing with protecting children’s privacy online.

The three key messages put forward during the panel were:

  1. “The kids are all right”. Even though we may be worried about exposure of our children to harmful content/contact/conduct, they are overall rather knowledgeable and growing more aware of the challenges and how to tackle them.
  2. Living a balanced life for both teens and parents is key. Teens need to diversify their activities to avoid addiction, parents need to better reconcile work-life in order to be present and take an interest in what their children are doing.
  3. Trust and transparency between parents and children is the most important element. As long as how the parental control tools are configured, or any other “digital rules” are clear, it creates the right setting for an open exchange and dialogue between parents and children/teenagers.

COFACE-Families Europe further underlined 3 recommendations for policy makers:

  • EU Policy makers should pursue further the principle of data portability in order to achieve a full disconnect between online services and hosting of personal data. Any personal data should be stored on a cloud service of the users’ choice, and the user only grants access to his data to select online services of his choice.
  • EU policy makers and FRA should encourage the emergence of alternate business models which respect the privacy of their users (business models which do not rely on big data and behavioural advertising such as donations like Wikipedia, decentralized online services like the Steem platform, novel and fairer advertising based models like BAT – Basic Attention Token – and the Brave browser, and finally, crypto-asset in browser mining)
  • EU policy makers and FRA should put pressure on online service providers to enable users to exercise more control over the services they use, for instance by allowing for community based moderation (giving more responsibility to the community to manage itself rather than professional moderators), or more control over the content they see (open source algorithms that allow users to customize their online experience, instead of using an algorithm which creates a filter bubble and isolates each user in their own world).

For more information, visit the official website of the Fundamental Rights Forum here: http://www.fundamentalrightsforum.eu/

Or contact Martin Schmalzried: mschmalzried@coface-eu.org