Data Privacy in Africa’s Ed-Tech Platforms: Children’s Right to Privacy

April 24, 2023

This article is a summary of the paper titled ‘Data Privacy in Africa’s Ed-Tech Platforms: Children’s Right to Privacy by Rachel Odhiambo, Emma Wakoli and Michelle Rodrot from Strathmore University’s Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Technology Law

Education technology or Ed-tech platforms have been gaining traction in Africa in the past decade, with an estimated $224 billion being spent on education in the continent today. This number is projected to grow to $740 billion by 2030, with Ed-tech spending increasing from 1% to 6-10% by 2030, reaching $57 billion. These platforms are designed to create a more engaging, inclusive, and personalised learning experience, often utilising artificial intelligence tools.

AI-powered learning tools have revolutionized the global education sector and have been recognized for their contributions to enhancing the quality of teaching and learning. They aid both teachers and students in their lessons and have the potential to boost students’ knowledge and learning habits. Some AI-powered education technology companies have been adopted in various regions of Africa, including Knowledge AI in Mauritius, Gradely in Nigeria, and Zedny in Egypt, among others.

While these Ed-tech platforms offer several benefits, it is crucial to note that the privacy of children who use them must be protected. Children’s right to privacy is a human right, and it is a collective responsibility of parents, legal guardians, and other individuals responsible for the child. This responsibility extends to AI platform owners who manage these platforms, as well as policymakers and regulators concerned with data protection and children’s rights.

Data protection and privacy laws stipulate that any data controller or processor, in this case, the Ed-tech platforms, must have a privacy policy. This policy should include information such as the platform owner, the data collected, the legal bases for collection, the purposes of collection, third parties’ access to the data, details or measures relating to the security of the transmission of personal information, user rights, and amendment and data retention procedures.

READ THE PAPER: Data Privacy in Africa’s Ed-Tech Platforms: Children’s Right to Privacy

However, children deserve special consideration with regard to data privacy and the internet. They are less likely to read or understand privacy policies, and they may have a limited understanding of their right to privacy and data protection. In addition, they are more susceptible to marketing techniques that adults can identify. The existence of personal information online poses potential safety and security risks. Therefore, it is crucial that privacy policies on Ed-tech platforms incorporate children’s rights and an understanding of their right to privacy. This includes online protection, security measures put in place to protect children’s data, and understanding of children’s rights to privacy and how they might enable children to understand these rights in the digital space.

In conclusion, the increasing adoption of Ed-tech platforms in Africa has brought about several benefits, but it is essential to protect the privacy of children who use them. Ed-tech platform owners, policymakers, and regulators must work together to ensure that privacy policies incorporate children’s rights to privacy and data protection. By doing so, we can create a safer and more secure online environment for children in Africa.