The Canadian digital literacy centre HabiloMedia recently released a report on their project focused on young people’s relationship with AI, algorithms and privacy. Funded by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, the report proposes, among other things, the creation of new digital literacy tools to educate youth about privacy rights.
The report, entitled Algorithm Savvy: Canadian Youth Discuss Artificial Intelligence and Privacy , is the result of a study in which teens aged 13 to 17 were asked to discuss topics related to artificial intelligence, algorithms, data protection and privacy. Among other things, the HabiloMédias educational team asked this panel of young people to play a game (at the prototype stage) where the dynamic was to raise awareness of data collection and sharing practices and to grasp the fundamental issues.
The results obtained after this study reinforced the importance of regularly raising awareness among young people about the protection of privacy on the Internet. Samantha McAleese, Research and Evaluation Associate for HabiloMedia explains the value of this study:
“This research is important because insufficient knowledge of AI and algorithms contributes to exclusion from online spaces, technology-facilitated discrimination, exposure to harmful content and various privacy risks.”
This report consists of two main areas: the main findings from the study and then, the main recommendations proposed by the entire HabiloMedia education team. As far as the conclusions are concerned, we note that young people are aware of the impact of algorithms on the Internet and that they feel powerless against these algorithms.
This first remark allowed to highlight the ethical issues: manipulation and scams by online platforms or content creators, “invasive” surveillance strategies of companies, algorithmic hypothesis team or even the sale of private data without their knowledge. Dr. Kara Brisson-Boivin, research director for HabiloMédias thus declared:
“We found that young people did not like the idea of their online information being aggregated into data categories, gathered to train algorithms and machine learning without their knowledge and, more importantly, without their consent.”
From this observation and the previously mentioned findings, recommendations arise that are themed: the creation of new algorithmic literacy programs tailored in an awareness issue, that decision makers can consider data erasure policies as part of data protection, that the consent process for private data use be continuous and valid from a monitoring perspective, that algorithms can improve their transparency through clear and concise privacy policies. Finally, engagement is the theme of the report’s last recommendation: that young people can become potential specialists through the development of digital literacy skills.