It is well known that the online privacy in Canada is governed by the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act(PIPEDA), but the unique needs of children aren’t specifically protected. In the US, in addition to state laws and protections, a dedicated federal law, The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). This is very surprising given that in Canada, the Convention on the Rights of the Child provides that every child should have a the freedom to seek ideas through the media of his or her choice (Article 13), the right to privacy (Article 16), and recognizes the important role that mass media plays in children’s lives (Article 17). This is amongst other articles that support the rights of children.
Online commercial exploitation of children occurs when commercial websites gather and use children’s personal information for behavioural targeting. There are no clear limits on how this data can be used, retained, or transferred, and corporations have too great an influence over the play spaces of children and youth.
Quebec’s Consumer Protection Act bans any advertising at children under the age of 13 on the basis that children under this age are particularly susceptible to the manipulative content of advertising campaigns.
The Children’s Online Working Group’s discussion paper posits a number of law reform proposals to better protect children’s privacy online, including: a. Limit/prohibit online collection children’s personal identifying and non-identifying information through commercial websites; b. Limit/prohibit advertising directed at children under the age of 13; c. Prohibit embedded advertising in children’s online game and play spaces; d. Require Internet service providers to retain customer data to assist with law enforcement activities; e. Require Internet service providers to disclose customer personal information for the purpose of law enforcement activities; f. Require Internet service providers to block access to websites containing images of child pornography; g. Mandatory reporting of child pornography for all persons; h. Prevent child sexual abuse materials from being disclosed to defense counsel during criminal proceedings; i. Enshrine children’s right to privacy.