The right to privacy
Your rights under the UNCRC
UNCRC, Article 16: It’s your right to have a private life.
Your rights under Irish law
- Under the Data Protection Acts 1988 & 2003, it’s your right that your personal details (name/address/age) are kept by organisations in a safe and secure way.
- Under the Children Act, 2001, it’s your right that your name isn’t published in the media if you are involved in a court case in the Children’s Court, if you are under the age of 18. This protects your privacy.
- Under the Child Care Act 1991, it’s your right that your name isn’t published in the media, and that you aren’t identifiable, if your parents are in the Family Court regarding your custody arrangements.
Did you know?
- In Ireland, there are laws about when and how people and organisations can collect and keep personal information about you. When you give your personal information to an organisation or individual, they must keep this private and safe. This is called data protection.
- The Data Protection Commission is responsible for looking after the privacy rights of people in Ireland. They make sure that organisations don’t hold your personal details for too long, and they stop organisations using your personal information to contact you without you allowing them to.
- If you have a worry about how your personal information is being used, you can complain to the Data Protection Commission.
- There are some situations where a school can interfere with a young person’s privacy. For example, a teacher can search a young person’s bag if they believe s/he is carrying illegal substances or alcohol, if the young person and their parent agree to this.
- Schools must also keep exam results and any notes about a student’s behaviour stored safely, and only allow certain people to access this information. This is because of a child’s right to privacy and also because these are examples of personal information.
- It is important to keep your personal information private, especially online. There is an Online Safety Hub that gives tips on how young people can look after their privacy online.
- The European Union is putting forward a new regulation called the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Each member state can decide what age the children in their country should be in order to access ‘information society services’, without the permission of their parents. The GDPR is essentially asking at what age young people are old/mature enough to understand what they are signing up for online and what happens to their personal data when they join information society services, things like social media accounts (Instagram/Snapchat).
- The EU says that the age of “digital consent” should be 16 years old and not lower than 13, but has said that each country can vote for themselves. Ireland has voted that the age of digital consent is 13 years of age.
- There is a campaign run by Insight which aims to hear from young people about what they think about GDPR, and what age they think the age should be. Many countries are deciding that the age of digital consent should be 13.
- In a survey called Bridging the Digital Disconnect (2013) from Reach Out, the need for parents to respect young people’s privacy was the most frequent request from young people aged 12-18 years old.
- In 2016, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) did a survey of 6,000 young people about what right was the most important for them. 6.7% said that privacy was an important right for them.
Hear your right – read by Cillian Millar
Tá ceart chun príobháideachta agat.
Éist le do chearta – léite ag Luke Ó Murchú
What children and young people think
- “It helps to talk to someone who won’t repeat it, it’s confidential. They know they can trust the person to tell them everything and once they say it, the problem is pretty much over and done with.”
- Graham (17) speaking about the work of the Kerry Jigsaw centre who support Youth Mental Health
“I think the right to privacy is important because nobody should know about you unless you want them to.”
Find out more
- Cartoons for Children’s Rights – A short cartoon about children’s right to privacy, made for Unicef’s Cartoons for Children’s Rights initiative
- Data Protection Commissioner- Find out about the work of the Data Protection Commissioner to build awareness of privacy and data protection issues among young people
- Spunout Online Safety Hub – Find out more about how to stay safe online on different social networks
Explore More – Resource materials for Teachers & Educators
- Webwise – This website includes a range of educational resources for working with children and young people on issues relating to internet safety, including privacy online.
- Children’s Commissioner UK - Digital Citizenship – Young People’s Rights on Social Media. Teaching pack for 7-16 year olds.
- Life Education – ‘The bCyberwise Monster Family Game’. Online game and app for children to learn about internet safety, including how to protect personal information.
- ICCL & NCTE – ‘What is privacy?’ An activity for young people (Junior Cert CSPE) to explore the concept of privacy and issues relating to privacy online. In Think B4U Click, pp.15-19.
- Council of Europe – ‘Fact Sheet 15: Privacy’. Information for young people, parents and teachers about online privacy, including ideas for classroom-based work with young people. In The Internet Literacy Handbook.
- United Nations – ‘When is “old enough”?’ An activity on the right to privacy. In Teaching Human Rights: Practical Activities for Primary and Secondary Schools (2004), pp.65-66.