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Children's data protection rights: a data protection casualty?

Posted on 28 January 2020

Children's data protection rights: a data protection casualty?

The UK's Information Commissioner has just published its final version of the "Age appropriate design: a code of practice for online services", having identified children's data as "a regulatory priority".  This code is the first of its kind in the world and represents a significant step in protecting children's privacy, further to the Home Office's proposal for a statutory duty of care between social media companies and children and the protections afforded to children under the General Data Protection Regulation (EU) 2016/679 ("GDPR").

GDPR mandates that data controllers provide certain information to data subjects, at the point at which personal data is collected from them. For those websites that target children (or those which do not, but are still likely to attract them as visitors), the bar is set higher: GDPR requires that the provision of privacy information must take into account that children have more limited awareness than adult visitors, and therefore will need a more accessible and clear framework. This sentiment is echoed in the newly published age appropriate code ("the Code") from the Information Commissioner's Office (the "ICO"), which "seeks to protect children within the digital world, not protect them from it".

Despite GDPR, the Code and growing scrutiny surrounding the use of children's personal data, it appears that, in very many cases, websites and apps popular with children are ignoring this requirement. This puts those who operate those sites, or who use them to sell or promote their services, at considerable legal and regulatory risk.

View a PDF of this report here.

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