Creating a Safer Internet for Children

The Children’s Code (“Code”) is a code that creates a better internet for children by ensuring online services likely to be accessed by children, respect their rights and freedoms when using their personal data.

The Code explains how data protection laws apply to the design and delivery of ‘information society services’ (ISS) (which encompasses everything from social media and educational platforms, to online games).

Although the Code came into force on 2nd September 2020, it came with a 12-month transition period, which expired on 2nd September 2021.

Who does this impact?

The Code evidently impacts the likes of Facebook, Google, Instagram and TikTok as all of these are often accessed by children. If you use any of these apps, you may have already noticed that they have made significant changes to their privacy and safety measures.

However, the scope of ISS providers is broad, and includes (but is not limited to) app developers, gaming companies, social media platforms, educational apps and websites, and all media, TV and radio businesses.

How do I ensure compliance with the Code?

The Code sets out 15 standards that must be complied with. These include, putting the best interests of the child first, using age appropriate applications and conducting data protection impact assessments (DPIA) before processing data concerning children.

A full list of the standards and examples of how to ensure compliance with them, can be found HERE.

What’s the ICO’s view?

The ICO have made it clear that children’s rights must be respected and they expect organisations to prove that children’s best interest are a primary concern. The Code gives clarity on how organisations can use children’s data in line with the law and the ICO want to see organisations commitment to protecting children with the development of designs and services in accordance with the Code.

What if you don’t comply?

The Code is a statutory code of practice which the ICO is required to publish under the Data Protection Act. It sets out the ICO’s interpretation of how data protection law applies in this area. It will therefore be the primary point of reference for the ICO when investigating and taking enforcement action against businesses operating online in relation to issues involving children.

The Code can also be used in evidence in court proceedings, and the courts must take its provisions into account wherever relevant.

Therefore, whilst its recommendations are not themselves legally binding, compliance with the Code is strongly recommended.

If you require any support with ensuring compliance with the Code and/or conducting a data privacy impact assessment, please get in touch with our Commercial Team.

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