5Rights welcomes publication of Age Appropriate Design Code

The 5Rights Foundation has welcomed the publication of the Age Appropriate Design Code (‘the Code’) by the UK’s Information Commissioner, Elizabeth Denham CBE. This ground-breaking piece of regulation, originally introduced as part of the Data Protection Act 2018 by 5Rights’ Chair Baroness Kidron, will transform the experiences of children and young people online.

Baroness Kidron, Chair of 5Rights Foundation, commented:

“This is a momentous day for children and young people, for their parents and for all those who believe in the potential of digital technology as a positive force in children’s lives.

“Children must not be the collateral damage of the commercial desire for data. In the digital age, the way children’s data are collected, shared, and used has more impact on their outcomes than almost any other factor. If it is not done responsibly, the consequences can be tragic.

“Children and their parents have long been left with all of the responsibility but none of the control over protecting children’s data. The Code will change this by forcing companies to put the ‘best interests’ of children above their own commercial interests.

“We call on the Government to bring the Code into force with the utmost urgency, and to support both the Information Commissioner and the digital sector in upholding their new and long overdue responsibilities.”

The Code contains 15 ‘provisions’ for the protection of children’s data, requiring online services to do the following:

  • Provide a high level of privacy to all under 18s by design and default
  • Avoid using children’s data for purposes that aren’t in their best interests
  • Do not broadcast or share a child’s location by default, and indicate clearly whenever location settings are activated
  • Ensure that children’s data are not used to auto-recommend harmful material
  • Turn behavioural advertising ‘off’ by default for children and young people
  • Do not nudge children to make choices that reduce their privacy
  • Uphold the policies and community standards (including age restrictions) that a child has signed up to
  • Establish the age of their users to a level of certainty that is appropriate given the risks arising from the processing of the child’s data
  • Explain the nature of the service in child-friendly language
  • Provide easy-to-use tools to allow children to exercise their data rights

The Molly Rose Foundation, which was set up following the suicide of British 14-year-old Molly Russell in 2017, after her family discovered that she was being auto-recommended graphic content promoting self-harm and suicide on popular social media sites Instagram and Pinterest, thanked Baroness Kidron and the Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham for introducing the Code. Ian Russell, Molly’s father, welcomed the Code’s protection of children from being profiled in ways that are detrimental to their wellbeing, and said:

We must see the end of profit from data gathering being given precedence over the safety of children. We must stop monetising misery.”

5Rights’ briefing on the Code can be found here: https://5rightsfoundation.com/uploads/5rights-briefing—aadc-final.pdf

For further comment or information, please contact 5Rights’ Policy Lead Jay Harman on jay@5rightsfoundation.com or 020 7502 3818 or 07970 393 680.