UK ICO’s Children’s Code comes into effect for online safety of minors

UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said that a statutory code called Age Appropriate Design Code (Children’s Code) that needs organisations to give better online privacy protections for children, has come into effect now.

The implementation of the code triggers the commencement of a 12-month transition period with organisations asked to conform to it by 2 September 2021. By that timeline, organisations are expected to make the required changes to put children’s privacy at the core of their design, said the UK’s regulator for data protection and information rights law.

The Children’s Code is applicable to organisations that offer online services and products that are expected to be accessed by children up to the age of  18 years.

The new statutory code is said to be a set of 15 flexible standards for online services and product designers and how they should conform to the data protection law.

According to the ICO, the Children’s Code would need digital services to automatically give a built-in baseline of data protection to children whenever they download a new game, app, or enter into a website.

The regulator said that the code will break new ground as regulatory guidance will concentrate on a ‘by design approach’. ICO also claims it to be a huge step towards safeguarding children online, particularly when taking into account the growing dependence on online services at home during the Covid-19 pandemic.

As per the regulator, all the major social media and online services used by kids in the UK have to conform to the code.

ICO information commissioner Elizabeth Denham said: “A generation from now we will all be astonished that there was ever a time when there wasn’t specific regulation to protect kids online. It will be as normal as putting on a seatbelt.

“This code makes clear that kids are not like adults online, and their data needs greater protections. We want children to be online, learning and playing and experiencing the world, but with the right protections in place.

“We do understand that companies, particularly small businesses, will need support to comply with the code and that’s why we have taken the decision to give businesses a year to prepare, and why we’re offering help and support.”

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