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Have you noticed an uptick in emails from all your apps? Facebook, Google, Twitter, Airbnb, Kickstarter -- the list goes on -- sending you recent updates to privacy policies and terms of service? Tech companies are updating policies to comply with changes to the EU data-protection law, General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), that will go into effect on Friday.
What does it all mean?
At a basic level, GDPR recognizes that, as more of our lives take place online, it's important that consumers have basic rights and protections. This is great news for European families looking to take control of their personal information. Unfortunately, the U.S. still has a long way to go when it comes to making sure we have options and control over our digital lives.
Kids in Europe will have the following protections: the right to access the data a company has about them, and the right to correct or delete that information. Also, companies will have to explain what type of information they collect on kids and all consumers.
Right now, we know a lot of tech companies track the videos our kids watch, the music they enjoy, and their locations in hopes of using these data points to target kids with relevant ads. What we don't know is how this sort of data could affect our kids' opportunities in the future. Kids should have the freedom to maximize the benefits of technology and not be hindered by potential risks. That's why Kids Action is working to catalyze tech industry reforms for kids' digital well-being and advancing better policies that ensure privacy, promote digital citizenship, and protect our democracy.
Here are three things you can do today to keep your family safer -- online, at home, and everywhere in between.
1. Think before you share. Only provide the basic information needed to set up online profiles, limit how much personal information you and your kids share online, and think twice before you share your location. Check out the latest research, tips, and tools on what really keeps kids safe.
2. Read Common Sense's report Inside the Kids' Privacy Zone. Then talk to your kids about steps they can take to model good digital citizenship and be safe, responsible, and effective online.
3. Lend your voice. Sign up for advocacy updates to get the latest when it comes to policies affecting your family's digital life.
Let's admit it: Online privacy is confusing and overwhelming. When the box pops up asking us to agree to the terms and conditions, we all start hunting for the agree button so we can move forward with our day. A recent study found that over 90 percent of Americans agree to terms and conditions without reading, and who is surprised? Consumers are in a bind: Give away your data or lose access to the digital tools that make our lives easier.
While adults might be willing to agree to this bargain, kids shouldn't have to. Kids are now the most tracked and surveilled generation, having lived their entire lives online. With each seemingly harmless data point, click, and location check-in, an online identity is being created, updated, and sold to the highest bidder, most of the time without your kids' knowledge or consent. Once the digital version of your kid is out there, there's little that we, as parents, can do to modify or erase that digital presence.