A child’s digital footprint is now taking shape from a very young age and children do not have the capacity to engage with the Internet in a safe manner in all circumstances.

On May 19, 2015, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data (“PCPD”) announced the results of a study conducted in October 2014 that reveal a lack of privacy awareness among children in Hong Kong. The PCPD is especially concerned about children’s privacy issues related to the use of social networking sites and other online activities. The study highlighted that the lack of awareness among children and their parents or guardians and teachers may pose a serious risk, and that parents, teachers, and schools seldom provide support to children concerning privacy protection.

Not unlike other organizational data users, schools have to comply with the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance. Schools need to develop internal codes of practice to ensure that the requirements prescribed by the Ordinance are met. Just as parents teach their children basic safety rules for the physical world, they should also teach their children basic safety rules for the virtual world.

The PCPD has developed a thematic website called “Youth Privacy Portal” which is a one-stop portal for youngsters to learn about personal data privacy and for teachers to prepare related materials. Practical tips are available for parents to instill in their children the concept of personal data protection and respect for each other’s privacy.