‘Code of Practice’ published by the ICO to protect children online.

Children using online services will now be protected due to the Code of Practice published today by the Information Commissioner’s office. The ICO is the U. K’s independent authority set up to uphold information rights. The code consists of 15 regulatory standards that media and online platforms are required to meet to ensure they are protecting childrens and their data adequately.  

It has been created in alignment with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and was also brought into fruition by the Data Protection Act 2018. The ICO expects all online services to update their platforms before the code is fully in use across all areas. The estimated time frame for this is early autumn 2021. 

Although one in five internet users are children in this day and age, online services aren’t designed with their safety and protection in mind. These new standards will expect online services to administer children safe online products. This could be services such as apps, games, social media platforms and streaming services. They would need to be created or updated with an internal standard of secure data protection whenever children access the site or download the app or game. 

The Information Commissioner’s Office, [‘ICO publishes Code of Practice to protect children’s privacy online’  21stJanuary 2020], licensed under the Open Government Licence said: “In an age when children learn how to use an iPad before they ride a bike, it is right that organisations designing and developing online services do so with the best interests of children in mind. Children’s privacy must not be traded in the chase for profit.”

“There are laws to protect children in the real world- film ratings, car seats, age restrictions on drinking and smoking. We need our laws to protect children in the digital world too.”

The code has been designed with the best interests of the child in regards to media and online services. It serves to stand that this should be at the forefront of organisations interests when designing and releasing platforms. This is in hope that children are safer online and can give peace of mind to their parents and guardians. 

Lee Meharry, mother of a five-year-old from Motherwell, said “I think it is a fantastic idea. The internet is so dangerous and it makes me feel safer letting her use it when there are robust codes that have to be implemented and followed.” 

This code is unique as it is the first to be created in this way. It is set to result in a broad range of engagements across different platforms. Although it is the first code of this standard for the U.K, it does reflect the global direction as comparable reform is being considered across the world. This is with the aspiration that it will align with the other standards to further develop online safety. 

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