Safer Internet Day – A Privacy Fail

By: Richard Beaumont | Tuesday, February 11, 2014 | Tagged: Cookie Law, Data Protection Regulation, Safer Internet Day | Leave Comment

safer internet dayToday is Safer Internet Day – where many worthy organisations come together to promote online safety – especially for the young and vulnerable.

This is a great cause.  Enabling kids to make the most of what the internet has to offer whilst making them aware of the dangers to avoid is very important, and I fully support the intent behind the campaign.

It was therefore extremely disappointing  to find that all the main websites connected to this, includingthose funded by the EU   – have completely failed to implement the EU’s own online privacy laws.

The first one we looked at was: www.saferinternet.org. This website contains no information about or controls over the use of cookies by the site. It is an appalling lack of regard, and a complete failure by the site developers in particular to recognise the irony of the failure.

However, it gets worse when you delve into the site content. Under a section called ‘Online Issues’ there is some advice for kids to protect their privacy online.  This not only fails to mention the right not to be tracked, it describes ‘digital footprints’ as a good thing, because it helps to prevent crime.

This site rembember is funded by the same organisation that is arguing that the inability to control your digital footprint is a breach of citizen’s rights. The total lack of joined up thinking on these issues is really negligent in my view.  We have of course contacted the organisation responsible for the site, to raise our concerns, but at the time of writing have not received a response.

If you are interested in finding out what cookies the site does use, but doesn't tell you about - then take a look here: http://cookiepedia.co.uk/website/www.saferinternet.org

The UK website: www.saferinternet.org.uk is not much better.  It does at least list some cookies (but not all as Cookiepedia shows: http://cookiepedia.co.uk/website/www.saferinternet.org.uk) however it fails to meet the test of true compliance as it does not offer any opt-out controls.  Such an approach may work for many websites, but falls very short of what might be termed best practice.  As stated by the ICO in its cookie compliance guidance -  "relying solely on browser settings will not be sufficient".

Finally there is the official site: http://www.saferinternetday.org/ - no mention of cookies at all here - not even the least mention in its privacy policy, despite massive use of cookies, including some reported to have been tracked by the NSA, and some well known tracking companies - http://cookiepedia.co.uk/website/www.saferinternetday.org

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