The Kids Cyber Protection Code

In a digital age when many everyday actions generate data, the relation between privacy and data online is becoming highly complex and is affecting all ages and definitely the younger generations. The internet is a great way to connect with your friends and learn new things. But it's also important to stay safe. 

Children start facing privacy decisions and risks as soon as they enter the digital environment, long before their media literacy prepares them to make decisions in their own best interests. 

This in turn sets a significant media literacy challenge for children (and their parents and teachers) as they try to understand and engage critically with the digital environment. The available evidence also suggests that children are not fully aware of the threats coming from commercial entities that collect, record and aggregate data on their platforms, and nor do they fully understand how their data is used for economic profit by targeting ads or customising content. 

Now with the growing concerns over children’s privacy and the commercial uses of their data, it is vital that children’s understandings of the digital environment, their digital skills and their capacity to consent are taken into account in designing services, regulation and policy. 

New UK Code for Children On-Line
The long-awaited launch of a new code of practice to protect children’s privacy online has moved a step closer after Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham has finally submitted the regulator’s plans to the Secretary of State.

The Age Appropriate Design Code of Practice, called the Kids Code, is designed to providers of apps, software programs, websites, games, connected toys and even devices without a screen which process personal data and are likely to be accessed by children in the UK.

The Government included provisions in the Data Protection Act 2018 (and GDPR) to create standards that provide proper safeguards for children when they are online.

However, the code requires approval from Parliament so will not be implemented until after the General Election. Current restrictions in the pre-election period mean that the submitted code will not be published until after a new Government is formed. The proposal follows around 450 responses to the draft code sent out for consultation in April and dozens of meetings with trade bodies, industry representatives, campaigners and individual organisations.

In a recent blogpost, Denham said: "Online services play an ever-growing part in our children’s lives, but the Internet was not designed for children. Our code aims not to protect children from the digital world, but instead protect them within it.

"We do not want to see an age-gated Internet, where visiting any digital service requires people to prove how old they are. Our aim has never been to keep children from online services. We want providers to set their privacy settings to ‘high’ as a default, and to have strategies in place for how children’s data is handled."

DataIQ:          LSE:        Childline:      UK Council For Child Internet Safety

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