5Rights Foundation launches Brussels office

5Rights Foundation, best known for its ground-breaking work on data protection and child-centred digital design, is opening an office in Brussels. The move comes as the EU seeks to strengthen its commitment to child protection online and to ensure the digital world reflects and respects fundamental rights. 5Rights holds a unique place in building the digital world that children and young people deserve and wishes to support the EU’s agenda. 

5Rights has achieved significant impact since its founding in 2018. The organisation, headquartered in London, played a central role in the recent adoption of the UK Age Appropriate Design Code, which has set a new global standard of data protection for children - the effects of which are being witnessed as global platforms are required to upgrade their protections for children. Over the last 18 months, 5Rights has supported the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) through the drafting process for the new General Comment on Children’s Rights in relation to the Digital World. This General Comment for the first time confirms that children’s rights exist in the digital world and requires countries to realise and uphold young people’s rights equally in the digital world as offline. The Foundation is also working with the IEEE Standards Association to develop international technical standards and guidelines for age appropriate digital services and products. 

At the EU-level, a central focus for 5Rights will be ensuring the primacy of the best interests of the child – as enshrined in Article 24 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights – translates throughout EU digital policy including the Digital Services Act, Digital Markets Act and e-Privacy Directive. 

The work in Brussels will be led by Leanda Barrington-Leach as Head of EU Affairs, who has joined from the European External Action Service where she was Adviser to the Secretary General focusing on Strategic Communications and the fight against Disinformation.

“I am delighted to welcome Leanda to the 5Rights team. The leadership of the EU in data protection and fundamental rights is renowned. With major legislation on digital services and e-privacy in the months ahead, this is an exciting time to be working to put children’s needs and rights at the centre of digital design.”

Tony Stower, Director of External Engagement

“I am excited to be joining 5Rights at a pivotal time for children’s protection online. Disinformation, exploitation and abuse are rampant online, amplified by the tech companies’ algorithms which don’t put children’s needs and rights at the heart of design. It has never been more urgent that children’s rights are embedded into EU action.” 

Leanda Barrington-Leach, Head of EU Affairs