ICO wants UK schools to teach data privacyInformation watchdog seeks a research partner

31 August 2011

Online privacy

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is urging the government to make privacy part of the national curriculum.

The call was made earlier this week when the ICO announced it was seeking a research partner to help it persuade the government to integrate information rights in the primary and secondary education systems.

Speaking at the official launch of its ‘invitation to tender’ for the partner, Jonathan Bamford, head of strategic liaison at the ICO, said:

‘Young people today are growing up in an age where an ever increasing amount of information is held about them. It is vital that they understand their privacy rights and how to exercise them.

‘We are also now seeing a big move towards transparency with more official information being released than ever before. The Freedom of Information Act is an important tool in holding decision makers to account.'

Our free guide shows you how to protect your personal details when online

He explained that by being aware of their rights to access information, young people would feel more empowered to ask important questions about the things that matter to them.

He added: ‘While we appreciate that some information rights issues are already covered in specific subjects encompassing IT and law, we want to see a move towards schools embedding information rights issues as part of the mainstream education process – giving young people skills that will serve them well throughout their adult lives.'

The ICO said research undertaken as part of law firm Speechly Bircham’s youth data protection ‘i in online’ campaign suggested that young people needed to be educated about their information rights.

Out of nearly 4,000 young people polled, 88% of secondary school and 39% of primary school children said they belonged to a social networking site.

Yet 60% hadn’t read the privacy policies of the networking sites they belonged to, 32% didn’t know what a privacy policy was, and 23% said they didn’t know where to find it.

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