The research project ‘Children’s voice recognition in domestic and educational settings: a children’s right-oriented approach to data protection’ is funded by the Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO) and runs from 2021 to 2024. The research essentially aims to examine to what extent and how a children’s rights-based approach can maximise the EU data protection framework’s potential for the protection of affected rights of the child in the context of children’s voice data processing.
This research proposal focuses on data protection and children’s rights issues associated with children’s voice data processing in two specific settings: at home and at school. Interactive toys and smart assistants are entering living and classrooms, yet legal questions regarding lawfulness and transparency of data processing, profiling and commercialisation of sensitive information remain unsolved. These concerns transcend the child’s right to data protection, as children’s voice data processing also affects other children’s rights provided by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Profiling on the basis of voice data could, for instance, lead to discrimination and a violation of the right to receive information. Thus, this research project aims to explore how a children’s rights-based approach can help maximise the EU data protection framework’s potential for the protection of all affected rights of the child. To that end, various data protection responsibilities and safeguards (i.e., purpose limitation, data minimisation, data protection by design, data protection impact assessments) will be investigated to assess their potential to safeguard the child’s rights and best interests. The project will result in policy recommendations, aimed at policymakers and data protection authorities, in order to ensure that data controllers adopt a children’s rights-based approach to voice data processing and children are enabled to exercise their rights in a meaningful way.