For the internet to be safe for children to use, securing their data and protecting their privacy online is paramount.
The internet has grown at a rapid rate allowing the world’s citizens to share, spread and connect. Overtime, internet accessibility has evolved from a computer to a handheld device: anyone is able to go anywhere, see anyone and do anything at the touch of a screen. This accessibility not only has reached adults, but children as well. While the internet can be a positive tool for children to learn and connect with the world they live in, there still is a pressing concern for their safety and wellbeing. To ensure the internet serves as a driver for child safety, we must address some of the most pressing challenges for children; securing their data, balancing technology use, protecting children’s online privacy, fostering healthy relationships and understanding the implications of how their data is used on participating platforms.
Any child or youth can be a victim of the online world. But we also know that perpetrators are looking for ways to exploit the existing vulnerabilities of children and youth, as well as the communities they live in. Children are at risk online to being vulnerable to sexual abuse, exploitation, trafficking, or radicalisation. They can be compromised through a combination of multiple circumstances. Perpetrators do not need to work hard to find and piece together information about children.
As children post, click, search and share information, or use smart devices, their data is linked to various profiles and grouped into segmented audiences; and fed into machine learning algorithms designed to target campaigns that increase sales, influence sentiment, encourage online games, social networks, as well as religious and political views. Perpetrators take advantage of the lack of privacy and security the internet offers to gain a child’s trust and develop a relationship with the victim by accessing victims’ profiles and personal information, or by simply following the digital trail that is left continuously by children online.
Human skills alone cannot protect children’s access to harmful content or being targeted and groomed for sexual exploitation, radicalisation or other form of victimisation. Safe and healthy digital environments require new privacy paradigms, combined with critical digital skills and competencies. EP3’s new Privacy Networks online child safety pilot responds to this challenge by automating and enforcing privacy frameworks. These networks enable attribute-level data sharing, enhanced security and decision intelligence. For the first time comprehensive real time data will be available to determine how to create healthy, sustainable communities while also respecting the security and privacy of individuals. EP3 Privacy Networks build privacy preserving networks based on collaborative efforts to protect information, but without affecting the ability to analyse, link and use the data needed to help our children to thrive.
The only way to keep children safe is to implement new privacy protecting designs and protocols. The EP3 Networks cryptographically bind different trust criteria and trust credentials to different resources, creating attribute-level “Trust Blocks” used to automate enforcement, verify identities and share information only when allowed.
As we connect new generations of children and communities online, our unique opportunity is to be the generation that implements new, additional privacy protecting designs and protocols. The vast potential the internet holds for billions of people across the world can only be realised when privacy networks and tools safeguard the world’s children. Access to privacy preserving data provides the intelligence necessary to make evidence-based decisions but not at the expense of individual privacy. It also enables collaborative innovation in any industry that requires coordination and relies upon privacy-sensitive, proprietary or regulated data. For the first time comprehensive real time data is available to determine how to create healthy, sustainable communities whilst also respecting the rights and privacy of individuals.
To keep children safe online, organisations and governments alike must secure information, ensure confidentiality and protect privacy, while also giving individuals the capacity to access and aggregate the information they are authorised to use. It is time for the organisations, governments and national authorities to take greater responsibility on how they protect children’s data and how they can proactively stop harmful practices that affect our children’s privacy and security.
We invite you to be part of the solution. Participate with the EP3 Foundation to develop the rules and governance needed to protect information and enforce policies. Participate in online child safety pilot initiatives and build the certification needed in your country and community.
President & CEO