NEWS3 April 2024

ICO calls for more focus on children’s privacy online

News Privacy Public Sector UK Youth

UK – Social media and video sharing platforms must improve their data protection practices to ensure children’s safety online, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has said.

Child on phone

The ICO said companies should seek to better understand the privacy risks children face while using their services and mitigate those risks, adhering to the ICO’s Children’s Code of Practice.

The Children’s Code of Practice was introduced in 2021 to help safeguard children’s privacy and interests online, and the ICO recently set out its 2024/25 priorities for protecting children’s privacy.

Among the areas of focus include the profiling of children for targeted advertisements, which the ICO said many children may be unaware of, which could therefore harm their autonomy and control of their personal information.

Other areas of focus for the year ahead include how organisations gain consent to collect information from children aged under 13, and the use of children’s information by algorithms running recommender systems.

John Edwards, UK Information Commissioner, said: “Children’s privacy must not be traded in the chase for profit. How companies design their online services and use children’s personal information have a significant impact on what young people see and experience in the digital world. 

“Seven out of ten children told us that they trust our children’s code to make the internet better and safer for them. That’s why our determination to ensure online services are privacy-friendly for children is stronger than ever. 

“I’m calling on social media and video-sharing platforms to assess and understand the potential data harms to children on their platforms, and to take steps to mitigate them.”