New ICO code of conduct brought in to improve online child privacy

Josh Peachey's picture
by Josh Peachey

Digital services have been given a new code of conduct - The Age Appropriate Design Code - by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO).

Following increasing concerns about the content children are viewing online, the new code from the ICO aims to protect children's privacy better online.  

One case that has been used as an example is the suicide of 14-year-old Molly Russell after she viewed inappropriate content on Instagram.

Some of the rules in the new code that digital services should adhere to includes switching off location sharing by default for children’s accounts, ensuring 'appropriate' privacy settings, banning ‘nudge’ techniques that convince children to give up privacy rights and providing easy to use online privacy tools.

According to a spokesperson for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, the code will be an “important part” of ongoing work to make the UK the “safest place in the world to be online”.

Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said that under-18s, who make up one-in-five internet users in the UK, “are using an internet that was not designed for them.

“I believe that it will be transformational. In a generation from now when my grandchildren have children they will be astonished to think that we ever didn’t protect kids online.”

The ICO said service providers can justify their decision not to adopt the code by producing documents showing that children are not likely to use their services. Examples include market research, current evidence on user behaviour, the user base of similar or existing services and service types and testing of access restriction measures.