Anna Turley, Labour MP for Redcar, has questioned the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on the child safety and privacy concerns surrounding the new Map feature on Snapchat.
The interactive map, recently introduced to the social media app, allows users to see in real time the exact location of other users. Videos can also be viewed if the user’s privacy settings are not secure enough.
There are fears the feature could be used by online predators to target children, by burglars to identify when people are away from home, and anyone else seeking to exploit victims.
Anna submitted three questions to the Secretary of State at the Department to see what, if any, action the government are taking to address these concerns:
– if she will make an assessment of the child protection implications of the Snap Map service available to users of Snapchat; and if she will take steps to ensure that children and vulnerable people who use that service have their location data protected from unofficial third parties.
– what recent discussions she has had with the Information Commissioner’s Office on the data protection and privacy implications of the Snap Map feature available to users of the Snapchat service.
– if she will make representations to Snap Inc. about the data protection and privacy implications of the Snap Map feature available to users of the Snapchat service.
In reply, the Minister of State for Digital Matt Hancock said:
“The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is responsible for the protection of personal data and the right to privacy. The Secretary of State and I also met with the Information Commissioner last week to discuss data protection. The Government understands the concerns that have been raised and have discussed Snap Map with the ICO.”
“I welcome that the Government has had discussions with the Information Commissioner about Snap Map but this needs to be raised directly with the developer Snapchat too. The app is popular, especially with young people, and we must make sure they can enjoy it safely. When using digital services people are not always aware how much information they are sharing and with whom, especially if the details are hidden away in the small print. All social media providers have a responsibility to inform their users and give them a clear choice about what they are willing to publicly share.”