Private or not private… is that the question?

By November 22, 2016Debrief

rerights_impact-blogs_4In Mission DigiRights, many Agents mentioned privacy as one of the three most important rights in the digital age. Privacy is also the right that you most commonly reported as being negatively impacted by digital technology, in Mission Opposites. Here’s what you told us.

In recent times, digital technology has turned many more online interactions into customised user experiences, asking us to provide personal details, create multiple accounts or link accounts from different platforms. While digital interactions that are tailored to our interests can be great, this trend also highlights the commercial value of our personal digital data: “Many sites sell personal information.” (France, 16).

The media talks a lot about the risks associated with losing control of your personal information. And the practice of computer hacking gives rise to ‘cyber-concerns’ around financial fraud or identity theft. It can be hard to tell to what extent these are in fact more common, easier to commit, harder to track, or simply more publicised.

“The right of privacy would be breached as there are a lot of hackers online who may steal information from the children.” Malaysia, 16

The fear of cyber-criminals was mentioned several times, but your opinions and sensitivity around ownership of your data strongly came through in your answers. What happens to the information we provide – often willingly – online? The media has focused increasingly on the large scale collection of personal information and ‘Big Brother’-style surveillance, inflaming debates about the divisions between public and private and asking to what extent individuals should have control of their information. Some of you expressed opinions around the use or misuse of your personal data by big companies and institutions, ranging from feelings of mild irritation or unfairness to frustration or distrust.

“[The] internet collects private data that can expose people’s personal information that they want to keep private.” Serbia, 16

“Some of the websites that [ask for] my name and identity card numbers don’t really make sure that my info is secured.” Malaysia, 17

[What rights are important in the digital age?] “To be protected against intensive collection of private data (taken by businesses and GOVERNMENT!).” France, 16

Technology makes it much easier to search for information about anyone: gone are the days when only a few people were famous enough to have anything published about them. Today, information is available about almost anyone: things we post about ourselves or that other people or institutions publish. It’s getting harder to enjoy the benefits of today’s information and communication tools without leaving a digital footprint – which in turn becomes a growing and easily searchable source of information. Have you ‘googled someone’ by way of a first introduction? Have you ever ‘googled’ yourself and been surprised by the search results?

Article 16 of the Convention states: “No child shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his or her privacy, family, or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his or her honour and reputation”. In your responses to these topics, you told us that young people are well aware of the issues at stake, and that protecting your privacy really matters to you.

But even when we all agree that privacy should be protected, how do we decide what privacy is and how to protect it?

“Some children display their entire life on the internet, not finding any barriers between public and private life and sometimes revealing intimate and personal information.” France, 14

Digital technology might create new risks, but it also provides new ways to manage how public and private intersect. If you haven’t already, head to Operation Privacy, where you will find some interesting Missions to take the conversation further.

Next, we’ll look at socialising… Does technology help or interfere with social interaction? Is social interaction a right? Check in soon to find out more!



About RErights made it online in January 2016 after months of dedication and hard work. It is a place for young people to rethink their rights in the digital age. We would like YOU to join us, if you haven't already!


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