Child Protection and Children’s Rights in the Digital World
Since the enactment of the UN-Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989, our world has changed in manifold ways - and with it the living environment of children. It is therefore important to take a closer look at the guidelines with regard to the change in society due to digitisation.
A consistent understanding of the terms “child” and “digital world” is required for analysing the implications of digitisation on the living environment of children.
According to the UN-Convention on the Rights of the Child, a child means any person under the age of 18 years old. We understand the term digital environment as more than just the internet. It encompasses the interaction of an evolving offer of connected digital services (content, software and applications) from commercial, public and other providers. This includes all computing and digitally networked technologies and services, often referred to as ICTs, the Internet, the World Wide Web, mobile devices and networks, online, “apps”, social media platforms, electronic databases, ‘big data,’ ‘Internet of Things’, ‘information society services’, the media environment, online gaming, and any developments resulting in access to or services for digital environment.
In consideration of the digitisation of children’s living environment, we focus on the following six areas of rights: Access, Freedom of Expression and Information, Assembly and Association, Participation and Play, Privacy and Data Protection, Education and Digital Literacy, Protection and Safety - taking into account international Human Rights Conventions, like the UN-Convention on the Rights of the Child and the European Convention on Human Rights.
The digital environment provides unique opportunities for children to realize the right to access to information and freedom of expression. The digital environment can enable children to form their social, religious, cultural, ethnic, sexual and political identities and to participate in associated communities and in public spaces for deliberation, cultural exchange, social cohesion and diversity.
The fulfilment of these rights must be ensured and the right of the child to freedom of thought, conscience and religion in the digital environment must be respected. Privacy is vital to children’s agency, dignity and safety and for the exercise of their rights.
Children’s personal data are processed to offer educational, health and other benefits to them. Therefore, it must be ensured by legislative, administrative and other measures that children’s privacy is respected and protected by all organizations and in all environments that process their data.
By use of digital identification systems that enable all newborn children to have their birth registered and officially recognized by the national authorities, access to services, including health, education and welfare shall be facilitated.