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Reda and Neto: Caring for our Personal Data

Development of the Project

The programme "The Adventures of Reda and Neto: Caring for our Personal Data" is designed to react to children's educative needs in order to enable them to safely use new information and communication technologies with the least risk to their privacy.

The following two elements are presented below in order to further explain this educational resource:

  • the social context in which these educational needs originate and
  • how the Basque Basic Education curriculum approaches the need to teach and learn the positive value of one's privacy and respect for the right to data protection.

Social Context

A good starting point in a discussion of the social context is to consider that the protection of personal data is part of a wider issue: that of the protection of one's privacy and human dignity.

The right to privacy is related to the nature and scope of the right of all individuals to act independently, protected from unjustifiable outside influences. It is also understood as the capacity to control one's personal information. Each individual must enjoy the freedom to decide whether personal information is to be released, within the confines of limitations imposed in order to safeguard legitimate state or other interests.

The right to data protection1 guarantees respect for individuals' privacy, particularly in a Knowledge Society in which new forms of social, labour, commercial, etc. communication have been developed, and in which the flow of personal information-both real and fictitious-is difficult to control and is potentially exposed to risks inherent to the Internet and communication through electronic media.

The principal risks to which people are exposed, which stem from the uncontrolled flow of personal data, are: the loss of privacy, damage to one's image, reputation or honour, including harassment, economic losses due to data and identity theft, nuisance and discomfort due to unsolicited marketing and finally excessive control due to manipulation of personal information carried out through harmful data collection techniques.

Considering these risks and the corresponding damage caused, we must analyze whether citizens are informed of their right to privacy. Studies of the social perception of data protection conclude that citizens only perceive threats when the economic variable, which encompasses fraud or the theft of money, comes into play. In addition, rights related to data protection (rights to access, correct, delete and prevent the processing of one's personal data) are scarcely exercised, in part because people are unaware that they have these rights.

The state of the educational community, in particular that of families, is probably similar to the one described above: that is, they have not reflected sufficiently on the threats to privacy that stem from constant use of ICTs. Nor do they know the responsibilities, rights and measures that must be considered in order to carry out the safe use of ICTs, respectful towards oneself and others. These circumstances make it difficult to educate and train children if the entire school community is not also instructed and enlightened.

In addition to these considerations, we must keep in mind that youths and school-aged children are probably one of the populations that are most exposed to potential threats and risks due to their early participation in social networks and electronic social communication systems. The particular vulnerability of minorsshould also be mentioned, as it requires a higher level of protection against these risks.

Indeed, with the emergence of Web 2.0, and of social networks in particular, a culture of sharing among minors has been brought about, without any consideration for the advisability of these actions. Another fact to consider is the habit of consuming short-length audiovisual content, demonstrated by a number of studies to be increasingly common. The website that is most commonly referred to in these studies is YouTube.

Reacting to the uncertainty of this situation, a number of national and international organizations recommend the systemized education in the school community regarding the risk-free use of ICTs.

In early 2010, this educational need is not only of vital importance, but has also received a definitive impulse from strategies such as Eskola 2.0, which includes the Internet as a tool and medium for learning in the school environment. At a moment in which the educational use of ICTs is being developed and digital educational resources are being created, it is key to encourage a culture of protection of personal data and privacy among the population. The programme "The Adventures of Reda and Neto: Caring for our Personal Data" can help carry out this task.

Protection of Personal Data and Respect for Privacy in the Basque Basic Education Curriculum

One of the Basque Data Protection Agency's strategic points of action is to inform and train citizens, particularly those belonging to high risk groups, to know their rights and understand how to protect their privacy.

The perspective on respect and the positive value of privacy was included in the Basic Education Curriculum's competency aims for this reason2.

The competent behaviour desired can be defined as treating one's own personal information, and that of others, with respect for the right to privacy and with the utmost regard to the potential risks of the Internet and communication through electronic media.

The behaviour is based on values and attitudes that lead to competence, such as an intrinsic regard for personal privacy, empathy and an appreciation for a genuine and real personal identity, as opposed to a fictitious or anonymous representation of identities.

There are two basic competencies that are most closely related to the emergence and consolidation of the new behaviour described above: a) the handling of information and digital competence and b) social and civic competence.

The curricular materials, in which the objectives, content and assessment standards are defined are Civic Education and Human Rights and, to a lesser extent, Technology and Computers.

  • Primary Education Stage: Civic Education and Human Rights (age 11)
  • Compulsory Secondary Education Stage: Civic Education and Human Rights; Ethics and Civic Education; Technology; and Computers (ages 12 to 15).

In the 5th course of primary education the subject area Understanding Natural, Social and Cultural Environments complements these materials in the subject of personal data and privacy.

"Block 3 of Contents: Health and Personal Development" takes a "() critical look at the social factors and practices that encourage or interfere with a healthy development and responsible behaviour", which is related to the subject of exposing one's own data or that of others. This practice is becoming increasingly socially acceptable and is a constant presence in the daily lives of young users of ICTs.

Similarly, "Block 7: Objects, Machines and Technologies" discusses the "() influence that technological developments has on our lives and work". This aspect of the unit is closely related to how the incorporation of ICTs in our personal and private lives has diminished our privacy.

The importance and potential of the educational resource presented here is evident in the following quotation3:

"() At the same time, the new conditions of privacy must be considered, especially those that result from the development of new electronic and digital technology. The concept of civic responsibility must include respect for others' privacy and personal data, as well as an awareness of the value and vulnerability of one's own privacy.

The necessary balance between the public and private spheres, will be one of the key points for our society to consider, as it combines the subjective sphere of privacy with the universal understanding of human rights".

1 The basic legal references are: LO 15/1999, 13 December, on the Protection of Personal Data and RD 1720/2007, 21 December, by which the Regulations for the Development of the LO is passed.
2 Decree 175/2007, 16 October, by which the Basic Education curriculum is established and implanted in the Autonomous Community of the Basque Country.
3 In the Introduction section regarding the class Civic Education and Human Rights in primary school, in Decree 175/2007, 16 October, by which the Basic Education curriculum is established and implanted in the Autonomous Community of the Basque Country.

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