The Australian Policies in protecting the Privacy of Teenagers
The Australian privacy principles are contained in the Privacy Act of 1988. The Act in section 6 defines information as; information which is recorded in material form or not can be true or false and should be identifiable about an individual. Such information can include signatures, bank records, and medical records. Australian policies require online websites and platforms such as Facebook to protect personal information. Australian privacy policies have 13 principles which govern how information should be collected and used. Under the guide on how to handle personal information under the security breaches of 2011, there is a guide on how organizations need to process handle personal information.
The UN convention on the rights of a child, which Australia is a signatory recognizes the rights of a child to privacy in Article 16 requires that a child's privacy is protected. Article 1 defines a child as anyone under the age of 18. Article 4 requires that the government takes adequate measures to protect the rights of a child. Additionally, Australia also adopts section 17 of ICCPR which also recognizes the right to privacy of teenagers and everyone else. The Australia's privacy framework, has always been a no overseas regime. The policies on overseas require that a person disclosing an Australian's teenager's personal information, ought to take due diligence in disclosing such information, and ensure there will be no breach.
Facebook's privacy policies in protecting the privacy of teenagers
The Facebook privacy policies are more of default settings for public viewing, as opposed to private. This implies that users who are complacent are likely to forget to adjust the settings. Consequently, this exposes such users to the invasion of their privacy by malicious users. Also, the services of Facebook are changing continuously. Thus users have to keep abreast with the changes. Failure to do so could mean adverse implications regarding privacy. Such changes have been seen in the changes in their news feed whereby people are allowed to view the changes in one's account. Also, there were variations in the timelines, where people can be able to see different updates on status, photos, relationship and sometimes location. Such timeline information creates a fingerprint regarding a person while leaving a layer of information; hence teenager's information is at a risk of exposure.
The A.G of California made a directive requiring all mobile companies and developers to comply with their privacy law, which requires that a policy statement is posted, ensuring that all users know that their information is being collected. Facebook signed this agreement and agreed to be bound by the California principles. Although the policies mainly applied to the State of California, the rules set a benchmark on the same.
The gaps between Australia Privacy laws and Facebook Privacy Policies
There exists a gap between the Australian privacy laws and Facebook privacy policies in regards to protection of users, particularly for children. Most Facebook users and teenagers, also are not concerned and sometimes do not understand the implications of the role of information found in such social networks. Despite there being tutorials on how users can control their information, advertisements are not controlled by users and teenagers can stumble upon information which is not age appropriate. Therefore, in regards to the Facebook privacy policies, they are no adequate measures to guide consent on teenagers of between 13-18, who may not even understand what they are not consenting to.
The challenges in protecting privacy are that there are constant changes in technology which make it hard for Australian privacy laws to constantly keep up with such changes. Also, the Australian policies are not specific to children. Accordingly, the existing Australian legislations, the government, Australian organizations and other agencies are not required to notify users, when a breach of privacy occurs. This puts users to further risks, and even lack knowledge when breaches occur.
- Teenagers should be educated about measures they can take to protect their own privacy.
- Teenagers should also be guided by guardians on how to be familiar with the privacy policies and privacy settings on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. It is important that the teenagers are taught about fingerprinting; and know that every time they post on Facebook, there is a digital footprint that will stay there.
- Legislation should require users to be notified when breaches occur, and advise them on necessary precautions they need to take before further breaches occur. This will also help in retaining the trust of information of persons where a breach has already occurred.
- Internal organizational principles can also be helpful when they restrict how personal information is obtained and disseminated.
- The Privacy Act of 1988 should be amended so that the organizations notify the affected individuals and the privacy commissioner when breaches which may have adverse effects occur.
- The Australian Commissioner on protecting personal information also recommends, checking privacy settings, reading policies on privacy, reflecting on how much information is revealed and asking questions regarding one's privacy.
- Any changes in privacy policies should be brought to the attention of the users.
Most social media platforms give users a wide array of privacy settings. It is important that teenagers choose their privacy settings wisely; because most users are in a position to decide what they would wish to share. Most information on social media with a public profile allow for different people to access it. However, everyone has the discretion to choose what they are most comfortable with. When it comes to teenagers, discretion is dicey because most of them are not mature enough to make decisions affecting their privacy, therefore legislations need to recognize the importance of parents in giving such consents and monitoring teenagers while using Facebook.
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International Covenanat on Civil and Political Rights 1969. opened for signature 16th December 1969. entered into force 23rd March 1976
UN Convention on The Rights of a Child. opened for signature 20th November 1989. entered into force 2nd September 1990