#CyberFLASH: Canada joins global sweep of kids’ online privacy

image-2Sometimes it can seem that kids are more digitally savvy than the adults around them. Children are playing games on mobile devices, watching videos online, and exploring various websites. But are those apps and websites taking enough precautions to protect children’s privacy?

That’s the question at the heart of a global investigation taking place this week involving privacy organizations in 21 countries, including the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC).

These organizations will be examining the apps and websites that are most popular among children in each country. (In Canada, “children” means those under age 12, though this may differ in some places.)

Investigators will be looking at whether apps and sites gather personal information on kids, and if they do, whether that information is limited to what’s necessary (to create an account, for example). They will also examine whether the apps and sites prompt users to involve a parent or guardian in any registration process; and whether they take measures to make privacy policies understandable to kids. That means not just using simple language, but also using graphics or even animated characters to guide them through the information and to encourage parental involvement.

The sweep, which began Monday and runs through Friday, was initiated by the members of the Global Privacy Enforcement Network, and includes countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, China, Germany, France and Mexico.

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