Tuesday, April 16, 2024

UK regulator urges social media to protect children’s privacy

The UK’s data protection regulator has urged social media and video-sharing platforms to do more to protect children’s privacy online.

• April 3, 2024
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The UK’s data protection regulator has urged social media and video-sharing platforms to do more to protect children’s privacy online.

The information commissioner’s office has set its priorities for protecting children’s personal information online for the next year, focusing on location data, targeted advertising, recommendation algorithms, and using the data of under-13s.

Information commissioner John Edwards said there has been progress since the introduction of the children’s code of practice in 2021.

This would guide platforms on how to protect children’s data; some areas, including those named as priorities for the coming year, still need work.

“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,” Mr Edwards said.

He added, “Seven out of 10 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.”

As part of its children’s code strategy for the next year, the ICO said it would focus on ensuring that online services make children’s profiles private by default.

That it should be with geolocation settings turned off by default.

The regulator said it would also urge platforms to focus on ensuring that targeted advertising was turned off by default.

This has also worked closely with platforms to examine the use of recommendation algorithms for younger users.

Finally, the ICO said it would examine how services used age assurance technologies and gained parental consent around the use of information relating to children under the age of 13.

The ICO’s priorities were announced as the Information Commissioner attended the IAPP Global Privacy Summit in Washington, D.CC.

He also travelled to Seattle and San Francisco to meet tech firms and artificial intelligence developers. He reiterated the ICO’s regulatory expectations over child privacy and emerging technologies such as generative AI.

“Children’s privacy is a global concern, and businesses around the world need to take steps to ensure children’s personal information is used appropriately so it doesn’t leave them exposed to online harms.

“This week, I will be meeting with international regulators and online services to encourage stronger digital protections for children,” Mr Edwards said. 

(dpa/NAN)

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