New report says children have a 'right to be forgotten' in digital age

Age should be considered should in decisions about whether to remove an individual’s personal information from sites

New report says children have a 'right to be forgotten' in digital age

File photo | Image: Photocall Ireland

Poor sex education and a lack of understanding surrounding digital rights are highlighted as significant threats to children's safety in a new report.

Special Rapporteur on Child Protection, Prof. Geoffrey Shannon said there is a need for "adequate sex education" to teach children and young people about consent and to challenge the concept of ‘victim blaming’.

Under the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill, children are allowed to give evidence in court behind a screen in certain circumstances. He states that: “This should be avoided whenever possible”. Prof. Shannon is calling for the urgent passage of the Criminal Justice (Victims of Crime) Bill that is currently before the Houses of the Oireachtas.  

The report goes on to discuss a child's right 'to be forgotten' for the first time, saying that children should be educated about the matter, and it should be understood that "the age at which an individual posts information online should be considered a very important factor in decisions about whether to remove an individual’s personal information from sites”.

"The unintended consequences for children when they post something online can last beyond childhood", he said.

He is also calling for parents to be educated on how to combat cyber-bullying.

Other suggested policy and legislation reforms include a call for child-sensitive interviewing of child victims of crime and for specialised criminal and civil courts to cater for children’s cases, as well as more child protection training and standards for people working in the field of play

The Children’s Rights Alliance is calling for urgent action on the key recommendations in the report and for it to be fully debated in both Houses of the Oireachtas.