Children and AI Agents?

Better-Internet-for-Kids-logoDuring the Fall, I have contributed to the targeted consultation of the research community launched by the European Commission. The initiative is aimed at identifying the challenges and risks associated to children digital use and experience in a digital environment and collectively designing the best way to promote, protect, respect and fulfil children rights in a digital world. This input from the research community, along with the one of other stakeholders, will help shape the new Better Internet for Kids (BIK) strategy to be adopted in 2022.

In my response to the survey, I have peculiarly emphasized on one recent phenomenon in the digital environment of children and the youth which is the rise of AI systems. I have argued about the limited awareness which exists regarding how these AI agents function and impact the lives of children and the youth whether through their algorithmic profiling, their loss of privacy or their exposure to non-age-appropriate AI-enabled technologies.

Regarding the privacy policies and new measures to focus on in the following years, I advocate for regulations which go beyond discourses on transparency and individual responsibility and actually require ‘privacy by design’ and favor ‘opt-in models’ approach over ‘opt-out’ ones. I also ask for the non-processing and suppression of all children’s data which is collected through technologies which were not designed for and addressed to them. At last, I argue that an important investment should be done in public and independant research to better understand and challenge the complex world of data brokers, data sharing agreements and digital profiling in order to find the relevant means to regulate this sector.

My complete answer can be consulted in the following document. Contribution-Veronica-BARASSI-BIK-European-Consultation-2021