In January 2021, the French Supervisory Authority (“CNIL”) published a summary report of contributions it received in response to a public consultation and survey on the digital rights of minors launched in April 2020 (see the press release here and a summary report here, both in French). Stakeholders who responded to the consultation included companies, professionals dedicated to the legal and educational issues related to children, parents and minors.
Among other things, the CNIL’s summary highlights the significant and autonomous participation of minors online – a reality which the CNIL believes is often underestimated by parents and guardians. Moreover, responses to the survey appear to reveal two major trends among stakeholder views: first, the need to strengthen protections for minors online, and second, a desire to enhance the autonomy of minors online. The CNIL states that these two goals are not necessarily incompatible, as long as online autonomy goes hand-in-hand with robust privacy protections.
Following this summary report, the CNIL stated that in the first half of 2021 it will clarify three remaining issues concerning: (i) consent and age verification mechanisms; (ii) the conditions under which minors can be granted more autonomy online; and (iii) the exercise of digital rights by minors. The ultimate goal is to offer practical advice and clarify certain child-specific aspects of the legal framework – in particular, the General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) – in order to better protect the rights of minors in the digital environment.
The CNIL’s report and forthcoming guidance come on the heels of other notable European developments in the area of children’s privacy. In particular, the Irish Data Protection Commission (“DPC”) and the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (“ICO”) have each recently carried out similar initiatives, looking closely into child-specific privacy issues and publishing in-depth guidance on the topic (see our blog posts on the Irish DPC’s draft Fundamentals here, and the UK ICO’s Age Appropriate Design Code here).