The protection of privacy for youth in Canada might seem like a bit of a contradiction, but it is certainly not. While younger Canadians are more apt to share personal information within their social networks, they still have all the rights of every Canadian, and I would argue kids do care about their privacy.
In Alberta this week, the privacy of those in schools got some attention when the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner issued a guidance document on when it is appropriate (or not) to disclose the fact that a minor belongs to a club. The guidance document is found here.
The background to this is the awful practice of teachers outing their students for belonging to a gay-straight alliance — but it really can apply to disclosing a student’s participation in any type of club at school.
One teen in our household willingly told us that he joined the Nicolas Cage Appreciation Club at his school. Maybe (we hope!) he joined other clubs, too. And, while we as parents hope that he feels comfortable sharing this information with us, I don’t expect his school to “tell on him” — to me or anyone else. It’s his choice to share this information and, barring an incident that could harm him, I would expect the school to protect his privacy rights — as the law affords.
Not only do kids need our help in educating them about the risks associated with sharing too much information, but, apparently, they also need our help reminding everyone that they too have privacy rights worthy of respecting.
I know our federal and provincial DPAs have focused on youth privacy issues for some time. I hope they keep it up or even consider beefing up efforts. There’s so much to do in this area, and the importance of youth privacy will only increase. What are some ways that you think young people’s privacy rights could be better protected?
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