Home Life Data and Children’s Privacy

Home Life Data and Children’s Privacy

AI virtual voice assistants, smart appliances, and security and monitoring technologies are entering our homes and re-defining our daily routines. Yet little attention is paid to the fact that once installed in our homes, these devices lead to children’s data becoming intertwined with adult profiles.

The very newness of the home automation environments means we do not know what algorithms are doing with this ‘messy’ data that includes children’s data. Firms currently fail to recognise the privacy implications of children’s daily interactions with home automation technologies that are not designed or targeted at them. Despite GDPR, it’s left up to parents to protect their children’s privacy and navigate a confusing array of terms and conditions.

On the 18th of September I submitted a report titled ‘Home Life Data and Children’s Privacy’ to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) as part of a call for evidence for age appropriate design code to protect children’s privacy.

In the report I argue that data of children that is being collected from home automation technologies is not only personal (individual) data but is ‘home life data’, a mix of family data, household data and highly contextual data.

Terms and Conditions always refer to personal data and there is little scrutiny or understanding of what happens to the data generated by the aggregation of adult and children profiles. Also we’ve seen privacy concerns raised about smart toys and AI virtual assistants aimed at children, but so far there has been very little debate about home hubs and smart technologies aimed at adults that children encounter and that collect their personal data.

In the report, I call the ICO to launch a review on the impact of home life data on children’s privacy and put this concept at the heart of future debates about children’s data protection.

The ‘Home Life Data and Children’s Privacy’ report was authored by me, but was co-signed  by Gus Hosein, Executive Director, Privacy International, and supported by Jeff Chester from the Center for Digital Democracy.

You can read the full report here:

Barassi (2018) ‘HOME LIFE DATA’ AND CHILDREN’S PRIVACY‘, written for the ICO Call for Evidence Age Appropriate Design Code.