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Report: When it comes to privacy, the kids are not alright

A new report has found that a large majority of teenagers are deeply distrustful of how digital platforms when it comes to how their personal data is being used.

user icon David Hollingworth
Thu, 27 Jul 2023
Report: When it comes to privacy, the kids are not alright
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The report – Young People and Online Privacy, by not-for-profit policy outfit Reset.Tech – found that 67 per cent of 16- to 17-year-olds said that they would trust online platforms more if they were more open about what data was collected and what was being done with it.

Sixty-five per cent also feel that they’d be more trusting if their data was not being sold to corporate interests.

The report found that despite a distrust of how their data is being used, most young people live lives that are deeply digitally connected. With the internet being used for education and entertainment, and for staying in touch with friends and family, they are aware that they are leaving a large digital footprint.

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What the kids want is more control over that data. Sixty-two per cent of those polled said they would be pleased if they could have any kind of control over how their data is used, and 61 per cent only want their data used if it is done in a way they have actively signed up for.

“Young people hold sophisticated and nuanced understandings about what privacy means in a digital context,” said Dr Rys Farthing, who led the report. “Our report demonstrates broad support from young people for many of the Privacy Act Review proposals, with learnings for the next Online Safety Act review too.”

The survey’s participants have a range of policy suggestions for lawmakers. They called for greater clarity when it comes to privacy policies and that it should be mandatory for platforms to seek informed consent over how data is collected and used.

However, they’re also aware of how they can be manipulated, and they want more restrictions on algorithms designed with addiction in mind and on personalised advertising. They also want to see something done about “dark patterns”, where various options may be presented differently based on user choice.

“Overall, young people wanted platforms and policy-makers to step up and prioritise their privacy,” the report found. “They want the digital world to start putting their best interests first.”

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