Study: Australian teens are uncomfortable with targeted advertising and want to more easily remove their online profiles


A new survey finds Australian teens want to delete their online profiles more easily and are uncomfortable with targeted advertising.

Australian teens want to be able to delete their online profiles, say they are targeted by hyper-specific ads that make them uncomfortable, and are not told which platforms have access to their private data, according to a new one. Reset Australia survey.

The poll, which reveals for the first time what kind of data protection Australian teens want to see, comes ahead of the government’s review of the Privacy Act. Main conclusions of the YouGov survey, carried out on behalf of Reset Australia, understand:

  • 81 percent of adolescents surveyed want the “right to erasure”, so that they can easily request that their personal data be erased;
  • 58 percent did not consider themselves informed about when and with whom their personal data was being shared;
  • 82% had seen ads so targeted that they felt uncomfortable;
  • 72% of them had received content recommendations that made them uncomfortable;
  • 77% want the confidentiality settings to be set by default on the most private options, for those under 18;
  • 71% want rules restricting persistent design techniques that use their data to keep using a product or service for longer;
  • 79 percent want to be able to access and know what data is held about them through simple mechanisms;
  • 79% want “data minimization” rules or limit the amount of data that can be collected to what is really needed.

“Young Australians want to see an end to Big Tech’s unhindered use of their most private and intimate data,” said Chris Cooper, executive director of Reset Australia.

“Young people understand, perhaps better than most, that their data is being used to keep them online longer or to target them with hyper-specific, inappropriate or harmful content. They want to see meaningful regulation of Big Techs, so they can have better control over their privacy, including the freedom to really delete social media profiles and get their data back. “

Reset Australia, which campaigns against digital threats to democracy, calls on the federal government to use the revised privacy law to adopt a Child data code, similar to UK Age-appropriate design code and Ireland Fundamentals of a child-centered approach to data processing. The Children’s Data Code has been supported by major children’s rights organizations including Child Wise, the Y, UNICEF Australia, Act for Kids, Australian Child Rights Taskforce, Child Fund Australia, Institute of Child Protection Studies, the Alannah & Madeline Foundation, Plan Australia, ReachOut and the Australian Council on Children and the Media.

Reset Australia is asking for a code that includes ensuring that children and parents have given meaningful consent to the use of their data, and that only absolutely necessary data would be collected. They also call for a code to be enforced by strong and empowered regulations with the power to issue criminal penalties for extreme offenses.

“Social media was never designed to take children’s rights into account. We need ground rules to protect the way youth data is collected and used, especially since we don’t know the long-term ramifications of uncontrolled data collection, ”said Cooper. “It has to be a strong code so that children can have meaningful protection. ”

Natalie Siegel-Brown, chief executive of Child Wise, said the survey shows young people want clearer data rights and better control over personal information online.

“Children’s data is now collected from birth. Still, there is no system in place to protect their profile online, and there is no expectation that the social media giants will implement systems to protect children’s information.

“The Reset Australia report reveals that young people are confused about what to consent to when it comes to how their data is used. Many adults would have a hard time understanding the terms and conditions they sign up for, so how can children be expected to understand what will happen to the information they post? Making the terms and conditions easier to understand and introducing data minimization is an obvious starting point for improving data rights.

“There is also a clear need to focus on algorithms, which are created and trained using children’s data. We need to make sure that these algorithms are not used to target and retarget young people with harmful content.

“The hopes, dreams and fears of children are among the data collected by digital platforms. This data is used by algorithms to target them with advertisements that may be so specific that they are uncomfortable. The report is a bugle call to government and the tech industry: What are we going to do about it now that we see it in black and white?

The survey was conducted by YouGov, on behalf of Reset Australia, among 400 young people aged 16 to 17 across Australia. It was carried out via an online panel in May 2021.

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