The Christian Union is concerned about the impact of TikTok and the lack of children’s privacy protection. Christian Union’s MP Don Ceder raised Parliamentary questions about TikTok’s business practices and the transfer of children’s personal data to countries such as China. In addition, Mr Ceder called on the government to force social media platforms to turn off algorithms used on children or to create modified variants.
TBYP spoke with Mr. Ceder, who is actively involved on behalf of Dutch children and their parents in this context. He shares his views on safe internet for children, and what the government can do in this context to protect Dutch children.
Why did you start advocating for the privacy rights of Dutch citizens? Was there a specific reason?
The Christian Union believes that the government has a duty to stand up for what and who is vulnerable. This applies in the physical domain but also in the digital domain. Your privacy is also something that is vulnerable. For example, I have assisted dozens of parents who have been victims of the Dutch childcare benefits scandal. They were on lists they had no idea about and data was shared and misused without permission. A great injustice.
Can you tell us something about what you do as a member of Parliament in the fight for a safer internet for children?
Children are particularly vulnerable on the internet. Children should be able to grow up carefree, this includes their online presence. That means an environment where they are not tracked and caught in an algorithm trap. Where they are protected from harmful content and apps that deliberately prey on children’s weaknesses. I am committed to improving children’s rights online. For example, through legal assurance of the Children’s Rights Code but also by taking critical action against the poor way social media companies handle the protection of children.
Can the government do more to protect children in the digital realm?
Yes, the government can and should do more. For example, by legally guaranteeing a Child Impact Assessment. This would make it compulsory for designers of digital tools to give child protection a central place in design and development. But they can also do this by empowering children and their parents. Not as an excuse not to regulate, but to ensure that this conversation takes place at the kitchen table. That parents understand that when your child uses a free service, the child is often not the customer but the product.
Have you yourself ever experienced a violation of your privacy?
I too use social media and since most apps do not follow the law, I also regularly have to deal with privacy violations, micro-targeting, algorithm traps and data breaches.
What would you advise Take Back Your Privacy and the Consumentenbond in their action against the privacy and consumer rights violations by TikTok?
You are fighting the good fight, I am convinced. And there is a task for the Dutch Data Protection Authority and politicians to make sure that the law is better enforced. But as civil society organizations, I still see opportunity because you can broaden the conversation about violations by TikTok. By actively seeking the public debate and thus also making parents aware of the risks behind the facade of dance routines and cat videos.