The Human Rights Defender is concerned about the exposure of children to the Internet

The development of digital technology complicates the search for the delicate balance between privacy and child protection.

“For children, the right to privacy is not clear.” In their annual report dedicated to the rights of the child, published this Thursday, the services of the rights defender Claire Hédon and the children’s defender Éric Delemar examined the issue of the privacy of the smallest. About an omnipresent fundamental question: how to respect children’s privacy, “provided by law” AND “self-build essential”protecting them?

The question arises in a particularly burning way with the development of digital technology. Today, 82% of children between the ages of 10 and 14 say they regularly go online without their parents, according to a inquiry conducted by Ifop for CNIL in February 2020. And according to the General Directorate for School Education (Dgesco), 25% of high school students say they have experienced at least one violation of their privacy online.

“Special vigilance”

If they feel it“The Internet offers an unprecedented opportunity to develop the sharing and building of knowledge and culture”Claire Hédon and Éric Delemar call for one “special care” about the potential violence young – and not so young – internet users can suffer. “Public exposure of children can be dangerous”, warns the rights defender. And to mention cyberbullying, cybersexism, provocation up to suicide or even online hate.

The report also mentions – without naming it – the phenomenon of “sharing”, the online publication of children’s photos by their parents. Practice today “trivialized” which nevertheless constitute “Unprecedented Invasions of Child Privacy”the report says. “These daily interventions deprive children of their ability to define their image and identity, which is already inscribed in the public sphere.”defenders warn.

A collective mobilization is necessary

Faced with the exponential development of the online activity of minors, who are increasingly present on social networks, despite the theoretical age limit set at 13, Claire Hédon and Éric Delemar insist on the importance of certain tools, such as parental control or “the right to be forgotten”. They also make several recommendations: including in the law the creation of mandatory digital education modules in college, providing training for parents modeled after those offered by the E-Enfance association, raising awareness among National Education staff about school cyberbullying. ..

Of particular importance is the mobilization of the school institution, defenders emphasize. Because if cyberbullying happens, by nature, outside the walls of institutions, it is often in schools, colleges and high schools that the bullying begins, before it continues online. “This continuity between the school and the private sphere of the child’s life leaves him no rest in exposure to violence.”, Claire Hédon and Éric Delemar despair. Hence the need for all child protection actors to work side by side.


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