Navigating the Digital Age: Safeguarding Personal Privacy in a World of Smart Technology


In the digital age, with the continuous advancement of technology and the increasing popularity of data, people’s lives are inseparable from the Internet and social media. People also need to give their personal information to access social media and websites. This has led to privacy and digital rights becoming an increasing focus, and the protection of personal information becoming important. However, the development of digital technology threatens individual privacy rights to a certain extent. For example, low-profile children’s smartwatches have become walking voyeurs.

This article will analyze the importance and threats to personal privacy rights caused by the development of digital technology, and demonstrate the complexity of privacy rights through case studies and critical analysis of low-profile children’s smartwatches.

Navigating Social Media Platforms and Privacy Controls. (2024).

What is privacy?

According to Warren and Brandeis (1890), privacy can be understood as a sacred realm in an individual’s life where an individual can expect to be free from interference and prying eyes. This privacy encompasses all aspects of personal, family and private life, including but not limited to instant photo and newspaper enterprise intrusions. They also mentioned threats from mechanical devices, such as words whispered in closets being announced from the rooftops. This implies that privacy rights need to be protected in the context of technological advancement.

In addition, privacy is a fundamental right recognized in the constitutions of over 160 countries (Access Now, 2018). Interpretations and understandings of privacy vary across different countries due to historical background, cultural habits, and philosophical viewpoints (Access Now, 2018). While many legal traditions prioritize safeguarding privacy by respecting the rights to private and family life, residence, and communications, the specific applications and legal protections may vary depending on the cultural context and legal framework of different countries.

Why privacy is essential?

Everyone has a right to privacy, and everyone needs privacy. The importance of privacy lies in the protection of individual rights, the promotion of social and cultural values, the maintenance of the right to free expression and action, and the maintenance of balance and justice in society. This is because we have access to new channels of information and interaction that are harder to control by governments or many corporations (Goggin et al., 2017). However, individuals and governments have little say over the scope of data collection by these platforms, individuals’ access to services, content moderation or speech standards, intellectual property or consumer rights (Goggin et al., 2017). For example, the scandal of Cambridge Analytica using Facebook user data for political propaganda. This shows the dangers of unchecked data collection and manipulation in the digital age. Therefore, safeguards need to be strengthened to protect individual privacy rights and maintain users’ privacy rights in digital media.

Left:Zhaotian. (2022). RIght:Horse footprints. (2022).

Are smartwatches for children becoming invasive?

Children’s smartwatches use artificial intelligence technology to provide functions such as positioning and navigation, letter communication, SOS assistance, remote monitoring, intelligent loss prevention, historical track recording, pedometer and love rewards. These multi-functional smart wearable devices are designed to ensure the safety of children through relatively accurate positioning functions and safety protection capabilities. Parents can easily communicate with their children and track their whereabouts using children’s smartwatches. Therefore, these watches have become an indispensable item for minors.

However, on International Consumer Rights Day, Information Security Laboratory engineers tested a children’s smart watch with a sales record of more than 100,000 (Chinanews, 2022). After implanting the malicious program into the watch, engineers can locate the child in real time, continuously collect movement trajectories, and delineate the range of activities. Testers found that the watch used an operating system that was more than ten years old. This is because manufacturers choose lower versions of operating systems in order to reduce costs. This means that on such a low-version children’s smart watch, after installing various software, a variety of sensitive permissions can be opened without user authorization, and the child’s real-time location, face images, recordings and other personal privacy information can be easily obtained (CCTV finance, 2022).

Children’s watches. (2020).

Protection can become a threat. Smart watches are a new technology that can provide parents with security. about their children’s location by monitoring the positioning of smart watches. Although parents may have good intentions, monitoring their children’s online activities can violate their privacy rights (Marwick & boyd, 2018, p. 1158). It is important to be aware that this feature can also be used by criminals to locate children. This is because Xiaotiancai will obtain user consent through a separate pop-up window for positioning services and call the user’s personal real-time GPS precise positioning information. If the user does not agree to provide personal GPS location information, he or she will not be able to use the location cleaning functions in the software, such as location display, shared location, and school safety routes. This shows that the user needs to accept being positioned before accepting the use of the positioning function. Accepting being located will cause big data in the background to be recorded, and hackers can also steal information in sensitive ways.

GDPR features. (n.d.).

As a result, children’s smart watch companies need to strengthen supervision and deal with illegal activities strictly in accordance with the law. For example, the Xiaotiancai phone watch is designed with reference to the EU GDPR network security standards, intercepting unknown calls and fully ensuring the security of children’s private data (Xiaotiancai, 2023). The GDPR was adopted by EU member states in 2016 and became law in 2018 (European Union, 2024). It requires companies to obtain informed consent from users, known as “data subjects”, in order to collect their personal data, as one of its key requirements. This is an example of how the GDPR sets high standards for data protection and privacy, with the EU aiming to influence global practice and ensure that individuals’ privacy rights are respected, regardless of their location or the company processing their data.

How far is it acceptable?

Platforms face the challenge of determining what content is acceptable, which is a subjective matter (Suzor, 2019). Before using social media, users need to enter personal information to access and use it normally, such as date of birth, real name and phone number. When using the software, the software will pop up the app privacy policy, allowing the user to choose whether to accept it or not. However, when the user chooses not to accept it, he or she cannot use the software. In this case, it means that if you want to use the software, you can only accept the terms of the privacy policy. The terms of these privacy policies are usually very long and complicated, and most users will not read them carefully. For example, the user needs to agree to give permission before the system will allow the background to record relevant data.

Elle Hunt. (2020).

Similar to the footprint software, this tool is used to track daily movements. If the user declines precise location permission, the tool can only record the general areas the user has visited (Ifb-CD, 2023). However, with precise location permission granted, the tool can accurately track the specific streets the user has visited, including the time of each visit. This indicates that it is permissible to use the software while being in a certain position. However, if the software continues to track the user’s position in the background without their knowledge after they exit the software, it is considered unacceptable and an infringement.

In keeping with Nissenbaum’s (2018) concept of context as social realm posits that different social realms have different privacy expectations. For example, social fields such as education, healthcare, politics, and business all have their own specific privacy needs and expectations. This is because the definition of privacy is different in each field, and the privacy rights accepted in each field are also different. They also point out that privacy protection should rely on rules or standards for specific industries or fields. For example, the privacy needs of the financial services industry may differ from those of the healthcare industry (Nissenbaum, 2018).

How to protect personal privacy?

Maria Webb. (2023).

Protecting personal privacy requires the cooperation of many aspects, including legislation, industry standards and user attitudes. According to Suzor (2019), from a legal point of view, social media platforms are owned by the companies that created them, and these companies have almost absolute power over how they operate. Therefore, the government is unable to force social media to remove a photo posted by a user, unless it is considered offensive or otherwise illegal, because social media can set whatever rules it wants. Furthermore, Suzor (2019) mention that terms of service agreement is a legal contract that describes a simple model for consumer transactions. They also claim that there is a clause in the terms of service agreement of each major platform that stipulates a basic rule that users can terminate access to the platform at any time for any reason or no reason. This means that before using social media, it is important to carefully read and understand the terms of service. User have the option not to accept or use any part of the terms if you are uncomfortable with it.

Cyber security. (2022).

Australia’s Online Safety Act 2021 strengthens the powers of the Electronic Safety Commissioner and introduces new rules targeting issues such as cyberbullying, image-based abuse and illegal or restricted online content (Humphry, Boichak & Hutchinson, 2023). The Online Privacy Act 2021 proposes changes to safeguard personal information gathered by digital platform companies by reinforcing parental consent and age verification for children under 16 and vulnerable users (Humphry, Boichak & Hutchinson, 2023). Although legal protection exists and privacy violations will be punished, users also need to improve their own knowledge to avoid being attacked by the Internet. For instance, Users can enter a virtual network name that is not their real identity, allowing others to access the information. Humphry et al (2023) show that the definition of data privacy is not understood by Australian teenagers aged 12 to 17 and their parents. This shows that if their personal information is really violated, they do not know how to protect themselves. While the internet has become more transparent, users’ privacy can still be easily violated and exposed. For example, by learning how to browse websites effectively, such as logging in without browsing records, users can avoid being tracked by big data and prevent information leaks. In addition, if your phone card is stolen or lost, you should immediately contact your mobile phone operator to report the loss, cancel the stolen phone card, and inform the police to prevent criminals from using your phone for illegal activities. This is the only way for users to enjoy the benefits of the digital world while protecting their personal information.


In the digital age, it is crucial to prioritize internet security and personal privacy. By taking proactive measures and treating users’ online behaviors with caution, it can reduce the risks associated with cyber threats and effectively protect users’ sensitive information. However, advances in digital technology can threaten personal privacy rights. This is because the network is transparent and easy to share information with. This makes it easier for users to get search results and make social connections. In addition, there are differences between social media regulatory standards and user acceptance. For instance, when users wear the Xiaotiancai smart watch to record their locations, the software needs to locate and track the users, but users believe that the software’s positioning will infringe on their personal privacy. This shows that how to draw such boundaries requires users to make their own decisions based on different scenarios. Therefore, the establishment of privacy clauses by social media not only protects the privacy of users, but also protects the industry’s definition of privacy rights. The world is now a vast hub of data, allowing people to communicate with virtual users worldwide without revealing their true identity. In this virtual public space, there are varying levels of relationships and intimacy. Users also need to protect their privacy when they decide to share information with others.

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Chinanews. (2022, 3, 16). Tonight, #他们都被曝光了#. Weibo.

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Goggin, G., Vromen, A., Weatherall, K., Martin, F., Webb, A., Sunman, L., Bailo, F. (2017) Executive Summary and Digital Rights: What are they and why do they matter now? In Digital Rights in Australia. Sydney: University of Sydney.

Marwick, A. & boyd, d. (2019) ‘Understanding Privacy at the Margins: Introduction’, International Journal of Communication, pp. 1157-1165.

Nissenbaum, H. (2018). Respecting context to protect privacy: Why meaning matters. Science and Engineering Ethics, 24(3), 831-852.

Suzor, Nicolas P. 2019. ‘Who Makes the Rules?’. In Lawless: the secret rules that govern our lives. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. pp. 10-24.

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