As a result of the pandemic, teenagers tend to spend more time on online learning and social networking. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data (PCPD) noted from the findings of a recent survey on online lewd traps that nearly 90% of the parents interviewed allowed their children to go online unsupervised. More than 80% of the parents interviewed were worried that their children might fall prey to online lewd traps. Besides, the PCPD also noted from media reports that the Police have recorded 616 online naked chat blackmail cases from January to September this year, which represents a more than threefold increase year-on-year and exceeds the total number of 171 cases in 2019. Among these cases, 40% of the victims were students.
The Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data, Hong Kong (Privacy Commissioner), Ms Ada CHUNG Lai-ling, noticed that some criminals devised plots to impersonate teenagers in order to make friends with teenagers online. After gaining their trust, the criminals induced the teenagers to hand over their personal data and even private photos in order to perpetrate fraud or other crime such as blackmail. The Privacy Commissioner said, “I urge teenagers to exercise greater vigilance when they go online, or chat on internet, online social platforms or vide instant messaging. They should avoid indiscriminately disclosing any personal data or photo, including those of their family members.”
The Privacy Commissioner recommends that parents and teachers may try to better understand teenagers’ online habits and related potential risks and remind teenagers to be more vigilant when they go online. The salient points include: