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UNESCO Releases New Publication: Survey On Privacy In Media And Information Literacy With Youth Perspectives

13 November 2017

The Global Media and Information Literacy (MIL) Week 2017 was the launching pad for a new comprehensive UNESCO study that explores MIL as defense of one’s privacy.

The publication, “Survey on Privacy in Media and Information Literacy with Youth Perspectives, combines two studies. One addresses how MIL providers globally – schools, teachers, practitioners, experts etc. – are responding to the need for people to comprehend the privacy of both themselves and others.

The second study investigates young people’s knowledge, attitudes and practices in relation to privacy and online safety, and how they perceive MIL in relation to this.

The 1735 youth surveyed do not portray passivity or obliviousness in their online activities. On the contrary – most of them indicated that privacy is important to them.

Over 90% place heavy emphasis on self-empowerment as the most effective means of staying safe online through the acquisition of information, media and technological competencies.

Their responses to questions like “My Government has the right to know all personal information about me if it will keep me safe online” or “The Internet should be an open space free from control by government or big business” underscore  the need for critically engagement by youth themselves. 

The research also reveals that MIL education programmes of the 231 providers surveyed addressed minimally privacy.  When addressed, it is most often covered as a minor topic absorbed into other MIL topics and not as a standalone topic or module. 

This research is published as part of the UNESCO Series on Internet Freedom that began in 2009 and that explores the changing legal and policy issues of the Internet.

The UNESCO-UNAOC University Network on Media and Information Literacy and Intercultural Dialogue (MILID) and UNESCO conducted one aspect of the research, with the other aspect was implemented by UNESCO.  

Authors of the publication are Sherri Hope Culver, Director of the Center for Media and Information Literacy (CMIL) at Temple University, USA and Alton Grizzle, UNESCO’s Programme Specialist.

Mr Joe Cannataci, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Privacy, in the Foreword noted, this “is a work of enormous scope and ambition, with the result that it has made me realize how important it is to be sustained and built upon for the next several decades.”

He continued, “ …the next new projects we should pursue is to research and devise privacy-rich MIL curricula for all children and youth… starting points to be considered should include the conceptual and development frameworks for MIL so usefully outlined in Chapter 1.”

The study also theorizes how privacy and MIL relate to the context of sustainable development.  It illuminates the social, economic and environmental implications for both individuals and organizations alike.

In addition, the study provides recommendations on building privacy literacy via MIL. This includes development of multimedia strategies, online and offline, to reach young people in rural and remote communities with interventions like MIL MOOCs. It also urges stronger proliferation of MIL training, more transparency from both government and business on how they access and use peoples’ personal information, and the inclusion of youth in the entire process as actors and not only as beneficiaries or part of the problem.  


Contact: Alton Grizzle,

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