The impact of digital personae on privacy: Positive and negative rights in the case of kids at risk

Document Type

Conference Proceeding


Faculty of Education and Arts


School of Education and Arts




Balnaves, M. (2006). The Impact of Digital Personae on Privacy: positive and negative rights in the case of kids at risk.


We all have a ‘digital persona’. Visa credit card companies can construct a passive digital profile of users. Government departments hold different profiles of different citizens in databases. Some of these profiles are in the interests of citizens. However, active digital personae have emerged that can go into online worlds and collect information and act on behalf of users or alternatively collection information on behalf of governments or companies. The negative right of freedom from interference (privacy) competes with the positive right of intervention (public interest). This paper provides a case study showing the impact of digital personae on people’s lives, in particular children at risk and the people given the task to care for them. A suicidal 9-year old student for example may require information on him or her to be shared among different government agencies in order to provide help even when this sharing can contradict privacy concerns. This paper reports on Midvale Primary School in Western Australia and associated government and non-government agencies that are attempting, independently of e-government initiatives, to address these problems.

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