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Calls for kids’ data protection in Aust

Australia will inevitably need to follow other countries legislating against the collection of data about children from the internet, a data privacy protection expert warns.

Dylan Collins, the chairman of the kids’ digital media company TotallyAwesome, believes the internet was designed for adults and many services are struggling to adapt to the extraordinary number of youngsters logging on every day.

“Pretty much everything is based around capturing personal data and monetising it in some form,” the Irish entrepreneur told AAP on Thursday.

“That’s just not safe or appropriate for six, seven or eight years olds.”

In recent years, the US, Europe and China have created so-called “zero-data environments” which prohibit companies from collecting data on people under a set age – ranging between 13 and 16.

“It’s probably inevitable that something similar will come to Australia in the not too distant future,” Mr Collins said.

He predicted that over the next five to seven years there will be a universal right for children to have access to the internet without being tracked.

Mr Collins’ concerns follow the Cambridge Analytica breach, which highlighted how Facebook data can be turned against internet users for sinister political purposes.

But he believes the much bigger concern is what hasn’t been done with data – and what could potentially be done.

Mr Collins estimates before a child reaches the age of 13, there are “tens of millions” of pieces of information about them that have been collected and could be used to build a profile.

“You’ve got all of this personal data about children floating around the very dark corners of the internet,” he said.

“You can imagine some pretty nefarious uses this could be used for.

“At some point, you’re going to see some sort of 9/11-type event with all of this childrens’ data that has been inadvertently collected.”

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