Good governance of children’s data
Featured project | Developing a Manifesto for better governance of children’s data.
The fluidity of children’s attitudes, preferences and identity, along with the lower capacity of younger children to make informed decisions and have full agency presents unique challenges to children’s data security and privacy.
While data collection and processing now underpin many health, education and social services used for and by children, this digital ecosystem is so complex and data processing so seamless that neither children nor their adult guardians are fully aware of how their data are being captured and used – and thus, the potential benefits and risks.
The good governance of children’s data raises issues beyond data protection, including the validity of applying concepts such as informed consent to children, use of children’s data for marketing purposes and surveillance by state actors, risks of group data profiling and the right to have data erased or forgotten. There is widespread belief that standards of data protection and security concerning children should be set at a higher level, but currently there is no agreed global data governance framework addressing key concerns related to children’s data.
The Manifesto aims to propose the world we want, and to address ambiguous or sensitive areas where there are no straightforward answers.
We have developed a Manifesto that will set aspirational benchmarks to guide governments, the private sector and international organizations in developing data governance that take full account of children’s issues and rights. The Manifesto aims to propose the world we want, and to address ambiguous or sensitive areas where there are no straightforward answers.
To develop this Manifesto, a working group of 17 global experts from the private sector, academia, think tanks and others provided analysis, insights, guidance and comments. They wrote short commentaries examining data governance approaches, evidence, gaps and grey or conflicting areas. A wider group of experts was engaged through convenings, webinars and consultations throughout the year.
Analysis and insight
State surveillance and implications for children
Young people in the commercialized digital environment
Kathryn C. Montgomery, Jeff Chester and Katharina Kopp
COVID-19: A spotlight on child data governance gaps
Linda Raftree, Emma Day and Jasmina Byrne
Responsible group data for children
Lindsey Barrett is a staff attorney and teaching fellow at Communications and Technology Law Clinic at Georgetown Law, where she represents public interest clients on privacy and telecommunications matters before the FTC and FCC, including children's privacy. Before joining CLTC, she was a fellow with the Future of Privacy Forum, with prior experience at the Electronic Privacy Information Center, the Office of Management and Budget, the Department of Justice, Facebook's Privacy & Public Policy group, and the Georgetown Center on Privacy & Technology during her time as a law student at Georgetown. Her writing on technology policy has been published in Slate, Fast Company, and Protego Press, and her academic writing has been published in a number of law journals. She co-founded the Georgetown Law Technology Review.
Dr. Monica Bulger studies children’s data privacy and advises policy both nationally and globally. She is a Senior Fellow at the Future of Privacy Forum where she conducts national interviews of families, school staff, and state and federal privacy officers. At the Data & Society Research Institute, Monica published a primer on personalized learning and co-authored an examination of why a $100 million education technology initiative, failed within one year. She has consulted for UNICEF since 2012 focusing on children’s rights in the digital age, particularly data privacy and prevention of online child sexual exploitation. Publications include Our Lives Online: Social Media Use by Children and Adolescents in East Asia – Opportunities, Risks and Harms; A Global Agenda for Children’s Rights in the Digital Age; Victims are not Virtual; Child Online Protection in the MENA Region. Monica serves on international advisory boards for Global Kids Online and the International Child Redress Project.
Heather Burns is an independent tech policy and regulation specialist from Glasgow, Scotland. She works with clients across the tech policy, digital rights, privacy, and games sectors on a range of UK and EU legislative and regulatory issues and represents digital professionals in Westminster and in Brussels. She also focuses extensively on Brexit’s impact on the UK tech sector. A former web developer with a lifelong passion for privacy, Heather has written extensively on privacy issues, supported the work of privacy initiatives in several open source communities, given privacy talks to developers across Europe, and was named a Mozilla Open Leader for her work on open source privacy. She is the author of a forthcoming book on privacy for developers being published by Smashing Magazine.
Jasmina Byrne is Head of Policy in UNICEF’s Office of Global Insight and Policy, an internal think tank that investigates issues with implications for children, equips the organization to more effectively shape the global discourse, and prepares it for the future by scanning the horizon for frontier issues and ways of working. Jasmina has over 20 years of experience in global research, policy and program development for children. She leads a multidisciplinary team working on digital connectivity (AI policy, digital literacy and youth engagement), governance innovation, environment, society and human capital. Prior to joining Global Insight, she oversaw UNICEF’s Office of Research portfolio on children and digital technologies, child rights and child protection. She was a founder and PI of Global Kids Online, a multi-country research initiative on opportunities and risks associated with children’s use of digital media. She has authored and co-authored studies on child rights, digital technologies and internet governance.
Jeff Chester is Executive Director of the Center for Digital Democracy (CDD), a Washington, DC non-profit organization. CDD is one of the leading U.S. NGOs advocating for citizens, consumers and other stakeholders on digital privacy and consumer protections online. Founded in 1991, CDD (then known as the Center for Media Education) led the campaign for the enactment of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA, 1998). During the 1990s it also played a prominent role in such issues as open access/network neutrality, diversity of media ownership, public interest policies for children and television, as well the development of the FCC’s “E-Rate” funding to ensure that schools and libraries had the resources to offer Internet services.
Emma Day is a human rights lawyer, specializing in children’s rights. Emma started out her career with VSO in Rwanda in 1999, soon after the genocide. She also lived and worked for several years in Kenya, Thailand, and Indonesia, where she worked on a range of human rights issues for the Open Society Foundation, the Data & Society Research Institute, and the Centre for Justice & Crime Prevention, as well the UNDP, UN Women, and the UN Global Commission on HIV & the Law. Since 2017 Emma has been working for the UNICEF East Asia and Pacific Regional Office, leading the regional office’s work on child online protection. Emma is a Fulbright Scholar at UC Berkeley where she is pursuing a second LLM, specializing in law and technology with a focus on child rights. She is also a 2019-2020 Affiliate with the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society.
Steven Feldstein is the holder of the Frank and Bethine Church Chair of Public Affairs and an associate professor at Boise State University. He is also a nonresident fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in the Democracy, Conflict and Governance Program. Previously, he served as a deputy assistant secretary in the bureau of democracy, human rights and labor at the U.S. Department of State. He has also served as the director of the office of policy at the U.S. Agency for International Development, as well as counsel on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee. His research interests include the intersection of technology, democracy, and human rights; U.S. foreign policy; and Africa policy. He is currently writing a book about the global spread of digital repression. His articles and commentary have appeared in the BBC, Financial Times, Foreign Affairs, The Guardian, Journal of Democracy, Just Security, The National Interest, Quartz, Salon, Wall Street Journal, War on the Rocks, World Politics Review, The Washington Post, and The Conversation.
Dr. Urs Gasser is the Executive Director of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University and a Professor of Practice at Harvard Law School. His research and teaching focus on information law, policy, and society issues and the changing role of academia in the digitally networked age. At Berkman Klein, he leads the AI Policy Practice, with a particular interest in global governance issues and the broader implications of next-generation technologies, including questions of human autonomy and inclusion. As a long-term research interest, he studies the patterns of interaction between law and innovation, and innovation with the legal system in the digital age.
Jay Harman is the Policy Lead at the 5Rights Foundation, which advocates for a digital environment that caters for children and young people by design and default. He was previously Campaigns Manager at Humanists UK, leading on children’s rights and education issues, before working as a Senior Policy and Research Officer at Barnardo's focusing on child online safety. Jay has been an advisory group member of the Sex Education Forum, and a steering group member of the Accord Coalition for inclusive education.
Pedro Hartung is a lawyer and researcher on Children's Rights and the Child and Consumerism Program's Coordinator at Alana Institute/Brazil, focused on children's digital rights. He is a professor at FGV-SP in Advocacy and Social Transformation. PhD in Public Law from University of São Paulo and a visiting Researcher at Harvard Law School and at the Child Advocacy Program at the same institution. Pedro is also a visiting Researcher at the Max-Planck-Institute of Public Law in Heidelberg/Germany and the former-counselor at Conanda - National Council for the Rights of Children and Adolescents in Brazil and coordinating professor at the Luiz Gama Human Rights Clinic at USP Law School.
Malavika Jayaram is the inaugural Executive Director of Digital Asia Hub, a Hong Kong-based independent research think-tank incubated by Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society, where she is also a Faculty Associate. A technology lawyer, she practiced law at Allen & Overy, London, and was Vice President and Technology Counsel at Citigroup. She taught India’s first course on Information Technology & Law in 1997. She is on the Advisory Boards of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) and Mozilla’s Tech Policy Fellowship, and on the Executive Committee of the IEEE Global Initiative on Ethics of Autonomous and Intelligent Systems. She is also a member of the High-level Expert Advisory Group to the OECD project, “Going Digital: Making the Transformation Work for Growth and Well-being."
Sean McDonald builds governance for technology and technology for governance. He is the co-founder of Digital Public, which helps communities protect and govern digital systems. He is a lawyer and the CEO of FrontlineSMS. Sean is a Senior Fellow at the Center for International Governance Innovation, a Research Fellow at Duke’s Center on Law & Technology, and a Hivos Digital and Creative Futures Fellow. Sean created and hosts the Data Governance Design Conference and the Data Governance Research Network, in partnership with Duke, Stanford, Indiana’s Ostrom Workshop, and the University of Western Australia. He is also a researcher and widely published writer. Sean is an advisor to Data4BlackLives and data governance research projects at Tilburg University and the University of Oslo. He was formerly a Non-Resident Fellow at Stanford’s Digital Civil Society Lab and an Affiliate at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center. He holds a JD/MA from American University, with specializations in international law, conflict resolution, and alternative dispute resolution.
Linda Raftree is an independent consultant focused on the ethical use of technology and digital data in development, humanitarian, and human rights programs. Current projects include research on potential harms introduced by digital programming in migration settings; enhancing data governance for children, and improving inclusion in digital programming. Linda organizes MERL Tech, a conference that brings different disciplines together to discuss, learn and shape how technology and monitoring, evaluation, research, and learning (MERL) efforts intersect. She has supported several organizations to develop responsible data, policies, guidelines and practices. Linda is a Certified Information Privacy Professional. She has run the New York City Technology Salon since 2011. She blogs at Wait... What? and tweets as @meowtree.
Nanjira Sambuli is a researcher, policy analyst and advocacy strategist interested in and working on understanding the intersection of ICT adoption with governance, media, innovation, entrepreneurship and culture, with a keen focus on gender implications. Nanjira has led policy advocacy on digital equality at the World Wide Web Foundation and worked at Nairobi’s iHub. She is a Commissioner on the Lancet & Financial Times Global Commission, board member at The New Humanitarian and member of DFID’s Digital Advisory Panel. She advises the Triple A Affirmative Action for Algorithms initiative and the World Economic Forum’s Civil Society and the 4th Industrial Revolution initiative. She was a member of the UNSG’s High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation, a trustee at UK Citizens Online Democracy, and a deputy on the UNSG’s High-Level Panel for Women’s Economic Empowerment. Nanjira was named one of New African Magazine’s 100 Most Influential Africans in 2016, and BBC 100 Inspiring and Influential Women in 2019.
Caroline Sinders is a machine-learning-design researcher and artist. She works at the intersections of natural language processing, artificial intelligence, abuse, online harassment, and politics in digital, conversational spaces. Sinders is the founder of Convocation Design + Research, an agency focusing on the intersections of machine learning, user research, designing for public good, and solving difficult communication problems. As a designer and researcher, she has worked with Bandcamp, Amnesty International, Intel, IBM Watson, the Wikimedia Foundation, and others. Currently, she is a fellow with the Harvard Kennedy School exploring trust patterns designed to trick users in social networks. Sinders has held fellowships with the Mozilla Foundation, Google's PAIR, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Eyebeam, BuzzFeed, the STUDIO for Creative Inquiry, the International Center of Photography, and others.
Steven Vosloo is the digital policy specialist for UNICEF’s Office of Global Insight and Policy. He is a technology and innovation specialist, with particular experience in digital learning, inclusion and youth in developing countries. Previously, he was with UNESCO where he developed guidelines on how technology can be better designed for youth and adults with low literacy and low digital skills, established and led the mobile learning programme and co-authored the Policy Guidelines for Mobile Learning. Prior to that Steven was head of mobile in the Innovation Lab, Pearson South Africa, and held the fellowship for 21st Century Learning at the Shuttleworth Foundation, where he founded the Yoza Cellphone Stories project.
Andrew Young is the Knowledge Director at The GovLab, where he leads research efforts focusing on the impact of technology on public institutions. Among the grant-funded projects he has directed are the development of a set of principles and practices for responsible handling of children’s data; a global assessment of the impact of opening government data; a methodology for leveraging corporate data to benefit the public good; and crafting the experimental design for testing the adoption of technology innovations in federal agencies.