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UN human rights expert starts ‘privacy and children’ consultation

17 April 2019

GENEVA (17 April 2019) – The UN’s human rights expert on privacy, Joe Cannataci, has called for coordinated global efforts to simultaneously protect and empower children with respect to the online environment.

Cannataci has initiated a two-year programme, including online and public consultations, to create a set of recommendations aimed at improving the safeguards and remedies for children’s privacy worldwide with particular emphasis on protection and appropriate behaviour on the Internet. The recommendations will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council in 2021.

He welcomed recent developments in the UK, including last week’s White Paper on Online Harms and the start of a consultation process to establish a new code for ‘Age Appropriate Design’ by the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office. “These are very important exercises which should help give a much-needed public airing to the issues involved,” Cannataci said.

“I have put the Age Appropriate Design Code as one of the items on the agenda of the upcoming meeting in September of my mandate’s Task Force on the use of personal data by corporations. I want to hear first-hand from corporations like Google, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, Twitter etc. whether the recommendations being made could and should be transformed into reality worldwide and if so how and when.”

The UN Special Rapporteur encouraged all stakeholders to contribute to the ongoing consultation exercises in the UK, saying their participation could influence the way that new safeguards and remedies for children’s privacy are introduced worldwide.


Mr. Joseph Cannataci (Malta) was appointed as the first Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy by the Human Rights Council in July 2015, with his mandate being renewed in 2018 until July 2021. He is an academic who has had a pioneering role in the development of data protection, privacy law and technology law. A UK Chartered Information Technology Professional & Fellow of the British Computer Society, he also continues to act as Expert Consultant to a number of international organisations.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organisation and serve in their individual capacity.

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