The advertising technology industry, known as ‘adtech’, is a complicated network of organisations and individuals that collect, aggregate and deal with large amounts of personal data. As children engage with digital networks for many aspects of their lives, they are increasingly exposed to adtech practices. Depending on their age, children may have less knowledge of the commercial digital environment and less maturity in their decision-making processes than adults have. Their limited resilience in the face of adtech’s onslaught offers a particularly stark illustration of why it is problematic to look to ‘consent’ as the exclusive or predominant mechanism to control the use of consumer data in the digital ecosystem. This article examines the problems arising from adtech’s data practices and makes recommendations on how to strengthen the agency and control exercised by children and protect their best interests in the context of adtech.
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