According to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR,) information society services that wish to process any personal information related to a child under the age of 16 years will require parental/guardian consent. The GDPR is the European Commission’s tool that will unify data protection in the EU and there are plans for it to be adopted in 2018. In the most recent GDPR draft released by the European Council, the age limit where parental consent is mandatory has raised from 13 to 16 years. The implications for children digital rights are not well understood and, at the moment, nobody knows if this regulation will protect children or by the contrary make them more vulnerable. Something certain is that, until now, minimal consultation to incorporate the children voice has taken place and consequently, children’s digital rights are not being treated with the respect or seriousness they deserve.
On February 17th and 18th the Alan Turing Institute held a two day ‘scientific scoping workshop’ on Algorithm Society with the tag-line: “If data is the oil of the 21st century then algorithms are the engines that animate modern economies and societies by providing reflection, analysis and action on our activities. This workshop will look at how algorithms embed in and transform economies and societies and how social and economic forces shape the creation of algorithms.”
The workshop started with three talks covering FinTech (by Prof. Donald MacKenzie), human attitudes/expectations and willingness to use/trust algorithmic decisions (by Berkeley Dietvorst) and a proposal for a “Machine Intelligence Commission” to investigate and interrogate algorithm bias and compliance with regulations (by Geoff Mulgan).
Young people are a highly vulnerable group on social media. Current research (summarised here https://www.nspcc.org.uk/services-and-resources/research-and-resources/2015/how-safe-are-our-children-2015/ ) suggests that 1 in 3 have been victims of cyber bullying and 1 in 4 have experienced something upsetting on a social media site. The ‘Digital Wildfire’ project (www.digitalwildfire.org) explores the spread of provocative and antagonistic content on social media and seeks to identify opportunities for the responsible governance of digital social spaces. As part of this we have spent time engaging with young people and school teachers to find out their views on social media and the harms it can cause.