Children and youth are a vulnerable and marginalized group where data privacy is concerned. Children under 13 do not have informed consent as to their organic online behaviour being tracked and archived and the aggregation of pseudonymized data that can be associated with unique devices and user accounts is extremely difficult to assess at scale. The data fingerprints of children and youth today will persist into the future and we cannot predict the personal impact or outcomes.
Alphabet's subsidiary companies, Google, Google Play, YouTube, and YouTube Kids have multiple documented alleged violations or violations of COPPA, the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act in the US. The pattern has been that claims are brought against Alphabet's subsidiaries by consumer advocate groups and then more rigorous protections are enacted, eventually. Torontonians should not trust Alphabet's Sidewalk Toronto to fully protect the data privacy of minors. Rather SidewalkTO needs to be fully transparent as to how the data of minors will be distinguished, in the public and private spheres, and protected.
My essay, “Data Science, Disney, and The Future of Children’s Entertainment” will be published in The Palgrave Handbook of Children’s Film and Television (July 2019).
Sessional Instructor Superior Teaching Award, 2018-2019, FAS, University of Toronto