Oxford University Press has announced that the Oxford Australian Children’s Word of the Year for 2022 is PRIVACY. Privacy was chosen as the Children’s Word of the year because its use by children in Australia’s largest online story-writing event for students revealed a 300% increase in the use of the word from 2021. Australian children are increasingly aware of the importance of online privacy and how to protect themselves online.

Practising in this area, it is easy for us privacy lawyers to consider this as a normal and important consideration, but why does it matter for charities, and other not-for-profit organisations such as schools and community health providers?

Why does privacy matter?

Reputation and relationships

Increasing community expectations of high privacy standards mean stakeholders will become less and less forgiving of a privacy breach or poorly managed cyber event. This matters because charities and not-for-profits need to foster strong relationships with clients, donors, and their other stakeholders – such as children or students, in turn impacting their brand and reputation.

Children will soon become voters, and the law reflects society.

Legislative changes often respond to changes in our society. For example, following high profile data breaches, a bill was introduced to the Australian Parliament proposing to increase penalties for serious interferences with privacy from $2 million to $50 million, or more. This is a significant jump, and reflects changing community expectations, and global trends, particularly in the European Union.

eSafety

Children can often outsmart us online already, but so can cyber criminals or malicious actors. Increased awareness of Australian students of privacy, and the need to protect themselves online means charities will need to put in the work to upskill and keep up to date. As vulnerable members of our society, grooming and other online threats are a serious concern, demonstrated by the rapidly expanding jurisdiction of the eSafety Commissioner.

Safer Internet Day 2023 is 7 February. Look out for more information coming next year.