Children are particularly vulnerable to online harms. The increasing profile and powers of the eSafety Commissioner under the Online Safety Act 2021 (Cth) is partly designed to address this vulnerability, as are some of the possible amendments to the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) (Privacy Act). Children increasingly rely on online platforms, social media, mobile applications and other internet connected devices in their everyday lives. While acknowledging the many benefits these services provide to children and young people, there is equally a concern that thousands of data points are being collected, including information about their activities, location, gender, interests, hobbies, moods, mental health and relationship status.
The 2023 Australian Community Attitudes to Privacy survey results showed:
- protecting their child’s privacy is a major concern for 79% of Australian parents; and
- the privacy of their children’s personal information is of high importance to 91% of parents when deciding to provide their child with access to digital devices and services.
The Government Response to the Privacy Act Review has provided more clarity on the likely changes to the Privacy Act to better protect children’s privacy.
Amendments we are likely to see to the Privacy Act
Amendments we are likely to see include:
- that a child should be defined in the Act as an individual who has not reached 18 years of age;
- a prohibition on targeting a child unless it is in their best interests;
- a prohibition on trading in personal information of children;
- a prohibition on direct marketing to children unless there was direct collection and the direct marketing is in the child’s best interests;
- a requirement that organisations must have regard to a child’s best interest in considering if collection, use or disclosure is fair and reasonable in the circumstances
- a Children’s Online Privacy Code to clarify how the best interests of children should be upheld in the design of online services; and
- a requirement that valid consent must be given with capacity.
Whereas the Government Response adopts only 38 of the 116 recommendations from the Attorney-General’s Department’s February Report, the area of children’s privacy is one space where many of the recommendations are agreed to.
How we can help
Being committed to working with organisations on child safety and the safeguarding of other vulnerable Australians, Moores is well positioned to empower your organisation to implement these privacy changes for organisations who work with children and vulnerable Australians. It is most commonly individuals who are already vulnerable who face greater risks of harm from interference with their privacy. More details about how we can help with privacy and data security is here.
Please contact us for more detailed and tailored help.
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Disclaimer: This article provides general information only and is not intended to constitute legal advice. You should seek legal advice regarding the application of the law to you or your organisation.