What are my rights while online?

Learn more about your rights online as a young person

Written by Children's Rights Alliance


800x200 GCF


This factsheet is an extract from the publication Know Your Rights: The Rights of Children and Young People published by the Children’s Rights Alliance. It is reproduced here with their kind permission. Know Your Rights is a public information project designed to inform everyone, in plain language, of the rights and entitlements children have in Ireland and where to go when they are not respected.

Your right to privacy online

What is my personal data?

Your personal data is information that relates to you and makes you identifiable. Personal data includes
your name, address, date of birth, your medical information, your personal email address, your location
data, your mobile or device’s IP address (this is a unique and identifiable code for your device that allows
it to operate on the internet).

Why do companies want my personal information?

When you sign up to an online service such as a messaging or gaming app or connect a toy to an app, you
must first provide the service with personal information and agree to the terms of service of the app.
Apps, particularly those that are free to use, often make money by using your personal information to
target you with advertising or sell your information to other companies to do the same.

How can I protect my privacy and personal data online?

There are a number of steps you can take to protect your privacy online including:

  • checking the privacy steps on the apps you are using to make sure that your profile is not publicly
  • using complex passwords on your online accounts
  • switching off the location sharing settings on your device and apps

How can I keep safe online?

Protecting your privacy online is an important part of keeping yourself safe. It is important to remember
that not everyone is who they say they are online and you can’t be sure of their identity. You don’t have
to do anything you don’t feel comfortable with. You can mute, block and report people who are being

You can find more information on Webwise, the Irish Internet Safety Awareness Centre. It has tools and
tips to help parents, teachers and young people with internet safety. It also provides information about
different apps, games and social networks. Cybersafe Ireland has useful resources on their website on
safe internet use.

The Irish Internet Hotline allows anyone to confidentially report distressing or troubling content that they
come across online. It also has advice and information for parents, guardians and young people about
internet use.

At what age can I legally access services online, like join a social media platform or use connected toys?

For most services, such as google, there is no law on what age you can access them.

If a social media platform uses your personal data you have to be 16 years old to sign up without your parent or guardian’s consent. By social media platforms, we mean apps like Snapchat, YouTube, Instagram and TikTok. By connected toys, we mean toys that you can interact with directly or through an app.

Is it legal for me to share intimate photos of myself online or through a messaging app?

If you are under 18 and you send a sexual image of you it is considered child exploitation material under
the law. This means that you and the person you send it to could be in very serious trouble. This is
because possessing or distributing explicit images of a young person under 18 is illegal and can lead to
criminal prosecution.

Penalties can include jail time, a fine and being placed on the sex offenders’ register. If you find yourself
in this situation you can seek help from a social worker or Gardaí who might be able to help contain the
image or video.

Is it legal for me to share intimate photos online of someone else who is under the age of 18?

No. It is not legal to share intimate photos of someone else who is under the age of 18. The law views
posting or spreading pictures like these as distributing child sexual abuse material often referred to as
child pornography.

Possession of these types of photos is also illegal, even if you have not posted them anywhere else or
shown them to anyone.

What should I do if someone under 18 shares an intimate photo of themselves with me?

Creating, distributing or even possessing any explicit image of someone under 18 is a potentially criminal
act and should be reported to An Garda Síochána.

What should I do if I see something that troubles me online?

Most websites have a system where you can report a post or picture that you find distressing or
troubling. If you come across something more serious that you suspect to be illegal like child sexual abuse
material, you can report it anonymously in a secure and confidential way on hotline.ie

You should also talk to a trusted adult about what you have seen and discuss how it made you feel.

Need more information, advice or guidance?

We offer information, advice and guidance about the issues that matter to you. Our online Youth Information Chat service is for 16 to 25 year olds and is available Monday to Friday, 4pm to 8pm (excluding Bank Holidays).

Our work is supported by