The Age Appropriate Design Code (the “code”) created by the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (the “ICO”) has completed the Parliamentary process and was issued by the ICO on August 12, 2020. It will come into force on September 2, 2020, with a 12-month transition period for online services to conform to the code.
The code sets out the standards that online services must meet in order to protect children’s privacy. It applies to providers of information services likely to be accessed by children in the UK, including applications, programs, websites, social media platforms, messaging services, games, community environments and connected toys and devices, where these offerings involve the processing of personal data. The final draft of the code was published by the ICO in January 2020 and lists 15 standards that organizations must meet, including requirements to (1) take into consideration the best interests of children; (2) refrain from using children’s personal data in ways that are detrimental to their wellbeing; and (3) ensure that settings default to “high privacy.”
The UK Information Commissioner, Elizabeth Denham CBE, commented in the code’s foreword, “I believe companies will want to conform with the standards because they will want to demonstrate their commitment to always acting in the best interests of the child. Those companies that do not make the required changes risk regulatory action. What’s more, they risk being left behind by those organizations that are keen to conform. A generation from now, I believe we will look back and find it peculiar that online services weren’t always designed with children in mind.”