In Child Data Citizen, I examine the construction of children into data subjects, describing how their personal information is collected, archived, sold, and aggregated into unique profiles that can follow them across a lifetime. Children today are the very first generation of citizens to be datafied from before birth, and in the book I point to critical implications for our democratic futures.
The book focuses on four different typologies of children’s data: health data, education data, home life data and social media data. In the book I combined intimate stories about data-tracking in family life, parental consent, and ‘sharenting’ with a critical investigation into the privacy policies, business models, patents applications and sharing agreements that allow companies and other agents to mine children’s data.
I argue that when we think about children’s data traces the question at heart is not only one about privacy, but about how these data traces may be used by AI systems and predictive analytics to profile them throughout their lives, and define them in public, as citizens. By engaging with critical question about algorithmic bias, AI ethics and data justice, the book asks what are the social and political implications of building a society where data traces are made to talk for and about citizens across a life-time? And how can we protect ourselves when we realize that the ‘predictions’ and narratives that algorithms construct about individuals are reductionist, discriminatory and – in the case of children pre-emptive representations of who they are?
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