​Children not getting the privacy message: OAIC

Australia’s privacy commissioner has urged web site and app developers to make their privacy messages more child-friendly.

Office of the Australia Privacy Commissioner (OAIC), Timothy Pilgrim, said that developers needed to do more to ensure that children understood privacy warnings when creating sites and apps targeting children under-12.

Mr Pilgrim made the comments after the OAIC participated in an OECD led global survey of 1,494 sites and apps targeted at, or popular with, children. The OAIC surveyed 38 sites marketed in Australia as part of the sweep.

Mr Pilgrim said that while it was encouraging to find that most app and site developers minimised the amount of information they collected about children in line with the OAIC’s recommendations, too few were customising privacy messages for under-12s.

“Less than a quarter of the websites and apps that we examined tailored their privacy messages to children, and three quarters of the websites or apps enabled children to be redirected off the platform,” Mr Pilgrim said.

Mr Pilgrim also warned that parents still needed to be wary of their childrens’ internet usage habits take a more active role in monitoring them. Site and app operators should also take a role in this by encouraging parental involvement, he said.

Of particular concern, he said, was a lack of parental controls to prevent children disclosing personal information or being redirected to other sites without consent.

Overall, Australian sites faired well as far as respecting children’s online privacy rights compared to other jurisdictions. The OECD led survey, carried out by the Global Privacy Enforcement Network found that 34 per cent of Australian app and site developers collected information from children compared to a global average of 68 per cent.

“Internationally, the results from a number of other privacy enforcement authorities suggest that many of the most popular apps and websites used by children are not specifically designed for children and as such do not incorporate child-appropriate privacy measures,” the OAIC noted.

The OAIC stressed that the sweep, carried out in 29 jurisdictions over five days in May, did not constitute an official compliance investigation.

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Tags risk managementriskapp developerssecurityprivacy policyprivacy​ChildrenOAICCSO AustraliaTimothy PilgrimAustralia Privacy Commissioner (OAIC)

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