Research-driven efforts for child data protection

Youth and privacy in the Americas: Datos Protegidos, Chile


How do youth allies promote young people’s critical thinking on privacy, in informal learning contexts in the Americas? This blog post is part of a series showcasing the work of different organizations at the intersection of youth development, digital rights, and online safety.


Quick facts

Who: Jessica Matus from Datos Protegidos

What: Research, workshops, litigation

Mission/vision: To promote, defend and educate about the right to privacy and data protection as fundamental rights.

Where: Chile

Since: 2015

Years of operation (as of February 2018): 3

Works in the fields of: Personal data protection

Post summary: Datos Protegidos is an organization that began to carry out research on personal data protection and childhood in Chile to better understand the challenges and create evidence-based youth outreach workshops. They focus on issues of consent, digital footprint and digital security.

Highlight quote from the interview: “We do a bit of digital security regarding the use of tools that are available to protect yourself; concepts about privacy and data protection, intimate aspects. It’s all civic education, to be conscious that, if information is published or shared, it can be used in many ways; and to know what platforms do in the end to give us a service in exchange for something else.”

More resources: Datos Protegidos’ website


In 2015, Jessica Matus and Romina Garrido, lawyers who specialize in IT, founded Datos Protegidos – a non-governmental organization in Chile that defends the right to privacy and data protection. Before they founded the organization, they had a legal blog for a long time, where they followed news related to personal data. They wanted to bring their experience in the government to do advocacy on the information they had been sharing. I am grateful to Jessica Matus, who took the time to share Datos Protegidos’ story and youth advocacy with me.

They focused their initial national survey on children after they gave advice on child consent under the Chilean law to UNICEF Chile and analyzed the use of data that corporations in the country had been doing. They ultimately wanted to raise awareness about the importance of protecting personal data starting early on in life and saw the need to understand the youth landscape in Chile: kids’ perceptions on privacy and freedom of expression. “We focused on 9 to 13-year-olds, the age range immediately before the time they can consent to open accounts on social networks, according to United States legislation; six out of ten kids in Chile had a Facebook before reaching this age of consent.” In Datos Protegidos’ research, 62% of 9 to 13-year-olds disclosed the use of social media as their first, second, or third priority when they were online.

Datos Protegidos’ research makes two conceptual recommendations. First, they found a need to raise awareness about the different components of personal data among kids. They found that kids identified their name and RUT, the national identification number in Chile, as personal data, but did not do the same regarding images, opinions posted online, geolocation, information about their school, or even their physical address. Second, they also identify the need to raise kids’ awareness about their digital footprints, while creating legal and technical frameworks that allow them to deindex content tied to their identity as they age.

 

An infographic of Datos Personales’ research on child privacy online.

 

This research and the daily conversations Jessica and her colleagues were having, they “realized that [they] had to extend this exercise to the families of kids, to formal education, as they didn’t have a shared language about privacy with their children. But parents were posting about their kids online. In our research, we asked kids how they feel when adults upload their photos, inspired by the lawsuits of 18-year-olds in France that challenge the acceptability of the digital footprint.”

This led them to start workshops with public organizations, as well as strategic litigation. They also received public funding to develop workshops on privacy for kids in different schools in four regions in Chile. Their idea is to talk about sexting, bullying, and grooming. “We do a bit of digital security regarding the use of tools that are available to protect yourself; concepts about privacy and data protection, intimate aspects. It’s all civic education, to be conscious that, if information is published or shared, it can be used in many ways; and to know what platforms do in the end to give us a service in exchange for something else.”

 

Data protection workshops poster.

What does this mean in concrete learning goals? “We want them to know that information cannot be deleted; the purposes of platforms which are trying to captivate young audiences today. We want to educate parents so that they accompany, rather than control, their kids online. To better understand the consequences about it.”

Good organizational practice shows what the recognition of youth as subjects of rights today looks like in practice. In addressing youth’s right to privacy and the implications for legislation, this work is best seen in Datos Protegidos’ research about youth privacy practices to advocate for the inclusion of their rights and needs in data protection legislation.

You can read more about Datos Protegidos, their advocacy and their research on their website.