Children spend more and more time online today than ever before. While parental controls are encouraged by many web browsers, it is virtually impossible to thoroughly monitor or limit children’s online activities and interactions. With the ever-increasing appeal of social networking sites and the pervasiveness of smartphones and their downloadable applications, children’s personal information is more at risk than ever.
While Canada is at the forefront of privacy protection and legislation, the protection of personal information is regulated generally, without specific regard to the protection of children’s personal information. The collection, use and disclosure of personal information is closely regulated in the private sector (by the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (“PIPEDA”), a federal statute, and similar provincial statutes in British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec), in the public sector (by the federal Privacy Act and similar provincial statutes), and even in the health sector, where personal health information is subject to various protections. Nonetheless, Canada has not yet adopted legislation to specifically address the question of children’s privacy, whether online or otherwise.