The Children’s Code (or Age Appropriate Design Code) is a data protection code of practice for online services, including apps, online games and social media sites, which are likely to be accessed by children.
It originally came into force on 2 September 2020, but offered a 12 month transition period so that organisations could get ready. This transition period is due to end on 2 September 2021, after which time, the ICO expects all organisations to comply with the 15 standards laid out in the code.
The online services covered by the code range from apps, games and connected toys and devices to online messaging services and social media platforms. It is also important to note that even if children are not the target audience, if they are likely to access a service, then the Children’s Code needs to be considered.
The code applies to both UK-based companies and non-UK companies who process the personal data of UK children. These organisations will now need to ensure they process children’s personal data in a way which conforms with the code.
There are 15 specific standards laid out in the code. Of these, the overarching principle is considering what’s appropriate and in the best interest for children visiting or using an online service.
The ICO will monitor compliance with the code through proactive audits and in responding to complaints from the public. It has the power to issue warnings, reprimands, stop-now orders and fines. In the most serious breaches, fines of up to £17.5 million or 4% of annual turnover can be issued.
Hopefully the majority of organisations impacted by the code will have already taken steps to ensure they comply. However, for those that have not yet done so, time really is running out. If you are unsure if you need to comply with the Children’s Code or are struggling to implement processes to do so, our commercial team can help. Get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org.
For information from the ICO, see: https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/age-appropriate-design/additional-resources/introduction-to-the-childrens-code/