Children's privacy in focus

25 October 2021

This Children’s Week, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) is reminding Australians of the importance of protecting children’s privacy, especially in the digital world.

Australian Information Commissioner and Privacy Commissioner Angelene Falk said businesses, parents and governments need to work together to protect children within the digital environment.

“Children are increasingly spending more time online to connect with friends, learn and be entertained,” Commissioner Falk said.

“Many online services are designed to appeal to children, but they may not always be safe or protect their privacy.

“Children need our support in the digital world, just as they do in the physical world.”

The OAIC recently updated its privacy tips for parents and carers and has information available on children’s and young people’s privacy rights.

However, Commissioner Falk highlighted parents and children cannot take on this responsibility alone.

“We know from our community privacy attitudes survey that parents are more concerned about their children’s privacy than their own,” she said.

“Australian parents are uncomfortable with a range of digital data practices involving children such as targeted advertising and location tracking.

“Businesses need to respond to these concerns and do more to meet community expectations by ensuring there are specific privacy measures in place to protect the youngest users of their platforms.”

Commissioner Falk also pointed to reforms underway to strengthen privacy protections for children.

“We are working towards a new Online Privacy Code that will set more specific rules for managing online privacy issues, especially for groups who are at risk in the online environment, like children.” she said.

“The OAIC has also recommended that privacy protections for children and other at-risk groups are strengthened through the government’s current review of the Privacy Act.”

Children’s right to privacy is enshrined in Article 16 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of a Child.

Children’s Week is marked annually in Australia and celebrates the right of children to enjoy childhood.