EU standardisation organisation adopts key guidance for companies to design for children

Designing services to be safe for children is now a legal requirement across the European Union. On 14 September, the European standardisation organisation CEN-CENELEC published a key document providing practical guidance for product developers and designers to ensure they respect children’s rights while developing their digital services. This represents an important milestone towards the development of a full European standard that would ensure consistent implementation of legal requirements for age-appropriate design, including under the Digital Services Act.

The CEN-CENELEC Workshop Agreement 18016 “Age appropriate digital services framework” is based on the IEEE Standard for an Age Appropriate Digital Services Framework Based on the 5Rights Principles for Children, adopted in 2021. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers is the largest international professional association of engineers with over half a million members.

The process of tailoring the international industry standard to the EU legal and normative environment brought together a wide variety of European corporate, technical, legal and child rights experts, including the 5Rights Foundation, Eurochild, Age Check Certification Services, universities and law firms.

The CEN-CENELEC group also reviewed and added further mechanisms to the industry standard, such as further detail on risk assessment and minimum standards for age assurance.

The adoption of the Workshop Agreement is timely as companies look to comply with the Digital Services Act (DSA), which requires online platforms ensure a high level of privacy, safety and security for children.

5Rights Foundation hopes to see this work progress towards a full European legal standard for age appropriate design of service, and urges the European Commission to publish a mandate for CEN-CENELEC for the development of a European Norm on Age-Appropriate Design.