This domain covers two different concepts: Privacy concerns mainly the personal protection of one’s own and others’ online information, while Security is more related to one’s own awareness of online actions and behaviour.

It encompasses  competences like properly managing personal and others’ information shared online or dealing with online safety (for example the use of navigation filters, passwords, antivirus and firewall software) in order to avoid dangerous or unpleasant situations. Becoming a digital citizen requires balancing personal empowerment with responsibility for protecting his/her privacy and managing the key IT risks.

Privacy / online privacy and safety are all complex topics and need to be discussed with young generations. Indeed, this domain covers Freedom and Security which have to be put together.


The areas of digital competence concerned are: personal protection, data protection, digital identity protection, security measures and safe and sustainable use. Consequently, when individuals are given the right to access the internet as part of their education, it is accompanied by expectations and responsibilities. All individuals can afford and expect safety and security when online, respect for shared ideas and fair treatment of resources created and shared via the internet.

The security-privacy domains are increasingly entwined in policy debates where they are seen as irreconcilable concepts. Whereas, undoubtedly, internet security depends on how well users manage the security risks they face, it also, importantly, depends on how they manage the security risks that they may pose to others whether through their action – or inaction.

With this in mind, it is important to underline that individuals must be effectively equipped to be active in today’s digital society and digital economy. In this regard, security on the internet can only be realised within a broader context of trust in and respect for fundamental human rights and values such as privacy and civic-mindedness.

Such a statement underscores the need to initiate training activities that are focused both on the benefits and risks involved in using new technologies and the practices that enable us to live in a digital environment with confidence, clarity and respect for individual rights.

Awareness-raising efforts should target young citizens in particular while offering advice on how to navigate the internet in a secure way. Privacy and Safety should be highlighted as core issues in digital literacy education and as an essential element in teaching citizenship and respect for human rights.

To become a digital citizen, one is expected to develop a critical and ethical approach to navigate the digital environment with confidence and clarity and act accordingly.

Among the basic knowledge outcomes related to privacy protection, digital citizens have to understand the need and purpose of providing or not providing personal information, depending on the context and the end use of the information to be collected and processed.


The right to privacy also introduces the fact that they have rights and duties, particularly towards others. Digital citizens have to know that they have specific rights regarding their personal data (e.g. access, correction, refusal, consent, delisting, erasure) and that they can exercise these rights - or have them exercised on their behalf-  by contacting the service in question according to domestic procedures and, in the event of a refusal or any problems, by contacting the Data Protection Authority if it exists, a judge, depending on the  country and/or the relevant national/sub-national authorities, or advocacy groups.

Within such existing legal frameworks, digital citizens also need to be taught that the controlled use of their personal data is both necessary and legitimate, based on the context in which it is used in daily life (as a student, team member, member of a family, etc.). Hence, the way in which individuals identify themselves and/or makes themselves known to others in the digital world can vary depending on the situation and may lead to them revealing more or less information about themselves. To this end, they have to know how to set up and use pseudonyms and more than one email address, account and/or profile depending on how they intend to use them. This is learning to manage one’s “digital identities.”

Dealing with online safety encompasses understanding how the protection of privacy is not just about everyone’s private life, but can also be applied in the public space, particularly on the internet.

This ability is paramount if one is to be aware of online behaviour and interaction, especially in the digital world where their whereabouts on the internet and, for instance, their “likes” on social networks are monitored and used for mapping their profile so that ads can be customised and directed at them. 

Finally, in practice, digital citizens need to clearly distinguish between data protection and data security and have sufficient knowledge on what digital security includes ( which basically means understanding the need to ensure the physical and logical security of a digital environment. In terms of competency principles, first, they cover, the solutions used to ensure the technical protection and security of personal data. One must know how to use technical devices to identify and authenticate oneself online, authorise - or not - the collection of personal data, and set up an account and/or profile in accordance with data protection rules, or even manage the security and privacy settings of the accounts, profiles and devices that one uses. Second, they deal with knowing about appropriate behaviour in the digital domain such as being able to express oneself online while taking into account the nature of the space in which one is posting information (private, public, related to school, family, friends, etc.) and being vigilant about what one publishes online, even under a pseudonym.

These solutions are the subject of learning processes experienced within the collective framework of school and school-related environments.  Given the importance of promoting Privacy and Security as fundamental digital citizenship education domains, the attention of governments and, in particular, responsible authorities for education as well as other stakeholders working in the education field has to be drawn within strong education policies so as to be as part of study programmes and curricula, regardless of the discipline learned and taught.