How Safe Is Your Country In Protecting Children’s Data?

The digital world comes with its benefits and drawbacks. With everything moving online, it only makes it so much harder for privacy experts to ensure the complete protection of users’ data. And when it comes down to breaches in child’s data, the consequences can be detrimental as we’re dealing with higher stakes across the board.

But which nations make sure your child’s data is safe through the restriction of its collections? Moreover, do all nations require parental consent before they acquire the data? Most importantly, do all nations around the globe fail to give children’s data the same importance that they provide to those belonging to adults?

Well, all of these questions are being addressed in a recent report where researchers from Comparitech explore the different legislations available in 50 different countries. In addition to that, the researchers also explored what it’s really like to have some additional security protocols in place when dealing with children’s information. This includes a glance over what role different governments are playing in this regard and how they differ from companies known to be involved.

The report was comprehensive and gave out an array of alarming findings. For starters, only 18 of the 50 nations had no legislation in place to address children’s data. Similarly, it was interesting to note how 32 had clearly outlined in their protection laws how children’s data needed to be safeguarded.

But with that came some more shocking stats about how each nation had its fair share of loopholes in terms of the governmental legislation in place for kids’ online data. Most importantly, five of the countries enlisted had gone as far as exempting their governments from being involved.

None of the nations included in the study prevented governmental regulatory bodies from assessing the seriousness of the situation. But only three-nation had stringent protocols in place that assessed third parties in terms of sharing kids’ data. Out of those, China must be applauded for taking the lead and preventing easy access to any child’s data.

Out of the different nations studied, only 19 of them had rules in place to profile minors. And from those, we saw how only one of them prohibited it as a whole, which was Ireland. It was also interesting to see how the majority of the places had rules on adverts whose main target were minors and out of those, only Brazil inhibited it completely.

And only France actually took an additional step to include children while taking consent, alongside the parent of course.

As mentioned previously, the study proved how only 32 different countries were actively involved in sending out legislation that protects children’s data online. However, not all of them gave out the same level of security as the others.

Some were dramatically better than others and that’s why they came out on top. Yes, no nation was perfect and they all need great improvements but we’ve got to start somewhere. Hence, the research evaluated the countries with a score of 44.

France topped the list with the highest score of 34.5. And that means it beat out several of its neighbors in the EU by a slight margin that must be highlighted. The biggest point worth a mention is how France takes out the time to include kids’ consent with their parents too along the way.

The law has been passed as a part of the country’s Data Protection Act that clearly delineates joint consent if a kid is below the age of 15 years. And that means in simple terms that a parent’s wishes will not be in conflict or go against their child’s. Keeping in mind today’s digital age, many feel autonomy of that sort is a major advantage.

As a whole, the nations falling in the EU, as well as the UK, scored 32.5. We saw Switzerland benefit the most from the GDPR- integral legislation that deserves a special mention for data protection.

This act clearly outlines what protection means and how important parental consent is in this matter. This includes a number of different rights like those related to accessing, deleting, and changing data on kids’ profiles and keeping a strict check on adverts too.

However, the GDPR did fall a little behind in terms of profiling minors and how no restrictions were specifically in place when it came down to encrypting data for a child. And that’s the difference with Switzerland. Although the GDPR does limit it in some regard, it still values a child’s consent and hence is usually evaluated like there are no major rules surrounding kids’ data.

Another interesting shocker was Saudi Arabia which scored 31.5. This is all thanks to the clear-cut and detail-oriented procedures in place for children’s data protection. Surprisingly, this country never stood out for its data protection in general, scoring below the belt on various occasions. But when it comes down to children, they’re in a different league altogether.

Yes, it doesn’t profile minors and has a few restrictions for adverts that target them, it’s exceeding the EU GDPR and that’s related to third parties and how stringently they’re addressed when collecting data.

Every nation has plenty of room for improvement, falling short in several categories. Let’s look at the US, which scored 29.5. Researchers highlighted how there’s no emphasis on data protection for minors and it’s a major concern. Thankfully, the COPPA law of 1998 did help put some general protection laws in place for kids but there’s more than can be done. This includes parental consent whenever data needs to be processed for kids below 13. But with that said, around 500 different apps across Google’s Play Store violated the COPPA.

China, although known to infringe the rights of its citizens, has some great policies in place for kids. And it’s all thanks to the new rules introduced in 2019, giving the country a score of 28.5. But China lacks in certain areas like those where regulations fail to go beyond commercial as well as general websites. Likewise, we’re not seeing any verification in place for guardians during the consent process. The nation does excel in detailed protocols that data collectors use to gain and process information.

There is undoubtedly plenty of room for improvement as the research lays emphasis on how different countries need to be more clear with their regulations surrounding kids’ data. This way, there’s little to no room for abuse or any interpretation.

Nations that treat adults in the same way as their kids must reevaluate their protocols. And common examples that fall in this regard include India, Canada, Argentina, and Australia.

Read next: Remote Learning Apps Are Guilty Of Collecting And Selling Kids’ Data, Claims New Alarming Report
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