Did you know that youth have a specific set of rights set out by the United Nations in relation to the use and access of networked media such as the Internet? However, due to the swift rise of the Internet from the early 1990’s through to the present day, knowledge of the rights of youth has failed to trickle down to youth themselves, and has struggled to keep pace with rapid developments in the online world such as social media, and the technological advances that allow for behavioural marketing.
Issues such as freedom of expression; access to information; the creation of diverse information sources; the protection against invasions of privacy; and the collection of personal information such as data tracking and behavioural marketing are key issues surrounding the rights that youth, as members of the online community, possess.
So what are your online rights, and what guidelines are in place to keep you and your data safe online? In 1990, the United Nations passed a Convention of the Rights of the Child, which laid down the rights that youth hold in relation to networked mass media, which of course, includes the Internet.
The following sections allow you to explore the relevant articles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and to learn about your rights in the online world.
Frances created a series of visual artworks that highlighted the difficulties surrounding the portrayal of girls and women in popular culture and mass media. After posting them on an image-sharing website and one of her social network accounts, both accounts were flagged by the respective social networks as violations of their respective community guidelines. The reason listed by the social networks related to their policies surrounding the standards of decency of posted artwork and images. While there was nothing indecent in Francis’ artwork, after her reaction protesting the removal was picked up by the news media, her accounts and artwork were restored, the social media platforms issued an apology for the sudden suspension of her accounts.
What connection can you draw between this scenario and Article 13, and what is the significance?
A fractious debate between “pro-life” and “pro-choice” support groups on a university campus escalated to the attention of the student union after the two groups caused an incident on campus resulting in campus security being called. After a week of debate, the student union elected to support the “pro-choice” group. As a result (and without support from the “pro-choice” support group), they passed a resolution stating that funding would only be granted to on-campus student groups if they issued online statements supporting “pro-choice” values on their university-provided webpages and social media accounts. Several religious groups on campus who were not involved in the original debate then faced the withdrawal of their funding if they did not cooperate with the student union’s decision.
What connection can you draw between this scenario and Article 14, and what is the significance?
As a member of an invite-only group on social media, Shawn participated in a series of forum-based conversations with other members of his school group across a range of topics. One such conversation turned to individuals that were known to all of the group members, and quickly became a conversation full of innuendo, abusive messages, and included the sharing of photos of these individuals without their knowledge or consent. After details of this group were leaked to the school and media, the school investigated, leading to the suspension of Shawn and the entire group, and leading to the closure of the group on their chosen social media platform.
What connection can you draw between this scenario and Article 15, and what is the significance?
Casey was using her school-provided email account during computer class, and sent an email to one of her friend’s personal accounts. Casey’s email contained unflattering and inappropriate comments in regards to her teachers, and school administrators. Because the message was sent over the school’s network, it was automatically redirected through an administrative account as per the email account policy of the school board. After the contents came to light, Casey was given detention, and lost access to her email account due to the nature of her email message.
What connection can you draw between this scenario and Article 16, and what is the significance?
Sam, enrolled in a socially conservative private school was tasked with conducting research related to the transitional period between childhood and adolescence – including the societal and physical changes that youth and their bodies go through. While conducting his research, Sam noticed that neither the school library nor the schools computer network could access anything apart from a very narrow set of source material. Any request for access to more source material was denied by the school administration, resulting in a very limited set of resources available for Sam’s research project.
What connection can you draw between this scenario and Article 17, and what is the significance?
 Freedom of Expression: The freedom to express one’s opinions, ideas, and feelings without the fear of backlash, retaliation, or censorship from governmental or other authorities.
 Access to Information: The right of members of the general public to openly access information without any external interference. Many countries including Canada have passed legislation ensuring that citizens can request access to government information or documents.
 Diverse Information Sources: The right to access information, media and material that is created in, and disseminated from a diverse range of sources, including paper, video, audio or multimedia, both nationally as well as internationally.
 Invasion of Privacy: Includes any attempted or successful breach or interference with an individual’s privacy, whether by illegally viewing correspondence, the individual’s work, home, or family.
 Data Tracking: Any attempt made by websites belonging to corporations or individuals that aim to record and collect information related to an individual’s activities online. This can include anything from collecting information on webpages visited, to items purchased online.
 Behavioural Marketing: A broad range of technologies that allow for advertisers to utilize data tracking in order to increase the effectiveness of advertising by steering people’s online bahaviour to make them more likely to see a brand positively. These typically include tracking browsing histories in order to curate a customized set of advertisements to the individual Internet user.