The day after the 33rd anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted on 20 November 1989 by the UN General Assembly, the bYou project and MILObs organised the online seminar “Children’s right to participation and data protection: tensions and challenges”. Four guests shared doubts, difficulties and challenges regarding the promotion of one of the decisions enshrined in the document: the right of children and young people to have their voices heard in issues that concern them. A right often limited by the current trend of equating data protection with limitations on the use of the media as channels of expression, the guests agreed.
Speaking on the side of the media aimed at children, Iolanda Ferreira, coordinator of Rádio ZigZag, and Luísa Gonçalves, co-coordinator of the Public at School Project, highlighted the legal doubts of those who, through the media, want to give a voice to the youngest. Both guests pointed out the lack of definition about the legal validity of parents’ authorizations and the variety of procedures adopted by schools regarding the possibility of students’ participation as two common challenges of ZigZag Radio and Público na Escola. On the side of those who have the responsibility of managing an educational establishment, José Valentim Sousa spoke. The director of the Secondary School of Paços de Ferreira justified the diversity of practices in the protection of students’ data with the fact that schools do not receive detailed instructions from the Ministry in this regard. The legal dimension of the tension between the right to expression and data protection was addressed by Dulce Rocha, president of the Child Support Institute, who praised the legal force of the convention ratified by Portugal on 21 September 1990: current concerns about data protection cannot erase the capacity of expression of children, under penalty of undermining the best interests of children.
The moderation was in charge of Sara Pereira, bYou researcher and co-coordinator of MILObs, and Daniel Brandão, co-researcher in charge of bYou, a research project that, through the Express Yourself campaign, is challenging children and young people to create content in and about the media. The full seminar can be seen or reviewed on the YouTube channel of the bYou project: