Towards a more effective and coordinated response by the African Union on children’s privacy online in Africa
Keywords:African Union, children’s rights, privacy, personal data, online, Africa
The development and expansion of digital technologies in Africa have brought invaluable opportunities for the realisation of children’s rights. However, the significant growth of internet connectivity and ICT access has also raised concerns about children’s online safety and privacy. With growing concerns on children’s privacy and personal data protection, there is a need for robust harmonised standards and regulatory frameworks to address all aspects of children’s privacy online. Through desk review, this article assesses the extent to which children’s right to privacy online and personal data is protected and integrated in the standards and regulatory frameworks of the African Union. An assessment of the applicable instruments and jurisprudence of the key human rights bodies indicates that children’s privacy online and data protection are not adequately addressed as there is limited or no focus on the protection of children’s personal data online. In most instruments related to cybersecurity, there are no explicit provisions relating to the protection of children’s personal data and children
are only mentioned in provisions on child pornography. The article argues that children deserve specific protection as a vulnerable group hence the urgent need to explicitly protect children’s personal data and privacy in the human rights instruments adopted at the African Union level as it is the approach in the European Union’s General Data Protection. The article further argues that there is a need to adopt more effective measures by the African Union and its organs to ensure that children’s privacy in all its aspects is protected in the digital sphere.