Children, Public Sector Data-Driven Decision-Making and Article 12 UNCRC

Claire Bessant*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Downloads (Pure)


Concerns are increasingly being raised about the routine collection and analysis of children’s data, about commercial data mining and digital profiling and about the datafication of children. To date, however, little attention has been given to how public sector bodies are using children’s data to make decisions that affect them, or to exploring children’s views about public sector collection, analysis and disclosure of children’s data.

This article commences by outlining the findings of a small-scale study which sought children’s views about governmental use of data in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Seventeen children, aged between eleven and eighteen years, participated in this research. These children wanted and expected the UK Government to consider their views about matters affecting them, including how their data is used. Although the UK Government is now proposing to build on its data-driven pandemic response, arguing that the success of its data-driven approach obliges it to do still more with data held by the public sector, no-one has considered how such proposals will impact upon children. These proposals, outlined in ‘Data: A New Direction’ pay scant regard to children’s rights or interests. Children’s views regarding these proposals have not been sought. It is argued, that with the UK Government considering how best to reform data protection legislation, there is a pressing need to consider how children’s views can now be fed into UK data policy.

The datafication of children, is, however, an issue affecting children not only in the UK but worldwide. At European and global levels academics and policy makers have begun to ask how children can be supported to understand how their data is used and to express their views and opinions about its use. The Council of Europe and the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child have both recommended that children should be actively involved in the design, implementation and evaluation of legislation and policy. This article argues that to comply with international obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, and to meet the expectations of children themselves, governments must give more thought to ensuring data policy is informed by children’s views and that children’s best interests are treated as a primary consideration. This article explains how this can be achieved.
Original languageEnglish
Article number872
Number of pages33
JournalEuropean Journal of Law and Technology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sept 2022


Dive into the research topics of 'Children, Public Sector Data-Driven Decision-Making and Article 12 UNCRC'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this