The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has published a draft Code of Practice for online service providers which are used by children to protect children’s data rights. The Code provides practical guidance about designing in “data protection safeguards into online services to ensure they are appropriate for use by, and meet the development needs of, children.”
The Code contains practical guidance on 16 specific standards:
- Consider what is in the child’s best interest
- Apply the standards to all users unless you’re able to verify their age (using age-verification techniques)
- Transparency in terms of how data is used and explained in a way a child would understand
- Don’t use a child’s data in a way know to be detrimental to their wellbeing
- Uphold your policies and community standards
- “High privacy” settings by default
- Only collect the minimal amount of data needed
- Don’t share a child’s data unless you have a compelling reason to do so
- Geolocation options would be switched off by default
- If parents have control/access make sure the child understands this, in particular if the child is being monitored
- Any profiling should be off by default and only allowed where there is no harm to the child from profiling
- Do not use “nudge” techniques to encourage children to turn off or weaken privacy settings
- Connected toys and devices must comply with the principles of this code too (with or without screens)
- Provide online tools to help children exercise their individuals’ rights (subject access, right to erasure, etc.)
- Carry out DPIA
- Put policies and procedures in place to demonstrate your compliance with data protection legislation and the Code
The Code goes into these 16 areas in detail setting out standard and expected practice.
This will be a statutory code prepared under s123 of the Data Protection Act 2018. This means that once the ICO have considered responses during its consultation process, it will be laid before Parliament to be ratified and to come into effect before the end of the year.
Once the Code is in force, all those affected by it in terms of their online services will need to abide by the Code. Failure to act in accordance with the Code will make it difficult to demonstrate compliance with data protection law in general – meaning, those affected have no choice but to comply with the Code and enforcement action can be taken for failure to comply.