Children’s Online Privacy During COVID-19

According to a report released by the United Nations more than 770 million students world-wide are directly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic’s closing of schools and universities.

As the virus has affected the normal course of daily life, children currently receiving online education need specific protection of their personal data as they may be less aware of the risks, consequences, safeguards involved and their rights regarding the process of personal data. ”Increased online activity supports children’s learning, socialization and play, but also puts them at heightened risk of online harms such as sexual exploitation and cyberbullying”, states UNICEF (The United Nations Children’s Fund).

This specific protection should apply to the use of children’s personal data for purposes such as the creation of user profiles and to the increased volume of personal data collected when using the online education services.

In the United States, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has created COOPA Guidance for Tech Companies and Schools with applicability on Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COOPA) in order to protect the personal information of children attending online courses during coronavirus.

The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) contains provisions designed to increase the protection of children’s personal data and to ensure that they are approached in clear language that they can understand.

Transparency and accountability are important especially when children access online services.

Parents and caregivers have a major responsibility to ensure that their children are not at risk as up to the age of 16, according to the GDPR, they are responsible for their privacy.