The Information Commissioner (the Commissioner) is calling for evidence and views on the Age Appropriate Design Code (the Code).
The Code is a requirement of the Data Protection Act 2018 (the Act). The Act supports and supplements the implementation of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (the GDPR).
The Code will provide guidance on the design standards that the Commissioner will expect providers of online ‘Information Society Services’ (ISS), which process personal data and are likely to be accessed by children, to meet. Once it has been published, the Commissioner will be required to take account of any provisions of the Code she considers to be relevant when exercising her regulatory functions. The courts and tribunals will also be required to take account of any provisions they consider to be relevant in proceedings brought before them. The Code may be submitted as evidence in court proceedings.
Further guidance on how the GDPR applies to children’s personal data can be found in our guidance Children and the GDPR. It will be useful to read this before responding to the call for evidence, to understand what is already required by the GDPR and what the ICO currently recommends as best practice. In drafting the Code the ICO may consider suggestions that reinforce the specific requirements of the GDPR, or its overarching requirement that children merit special protection, but will disregard any suggestions that fall below this standard.
The Commissioner will be responsible for drafting the Code. The Act provides that the Commissioner must consult with relevant stakeholders when preparing the Code, and submit it to the Secretary of State for Parliamentary approval within 18 months of 25 May 2018. She will publish the Code once it has been approved by Parliament.
This call for evidence is the first stage of the consultation process. The Commissioner seeks evidence and views on the development stages of childhood and age-appropriate design standards for ISS. The Commissioner is particularly interested in evidence based submissions provided by: bodies representing the views of children or parents; child development experts; providers of online services likely to be accessed by children, and trade associations representing such providers. She appreciates that different stakeholders will have different and particular areas of expertise. The Commissioner welcomes responses that are limited to specific areas of interest or expertise and only address questions within these areas, as well as those that address every question asked. She is not seeking submissions from individual children or parents in this call for evidence as she intends to engage with these stakeholder groups via other dedicated and specifically tailored means.
The Commissioner will use the evidence gathered to inform further work in developing the content of the Code.
The scope of the Code
The Act affords the Commissioner discretion to set such standards of age appropriate design as she considers to be desirable, having regard to the best interests of children, and to provide such guidance as she considers appropriate.
In exercising this discretion the Act requires the Commissioner to have regard to the fact that children have different needs at different ages, and to the United Kingdom’s obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
During Parliamentary debate the Government committed to supporting the Commissioner in her development of the Code by providing her with a list of ‘minimum standards to be taken into account when designing it.’ The Commissioner will have regard to this list both in this call for evidence, and when exercising her discretion to develop such standards as she considers to be desirable
In developing the Code the Commissioner will also take into account that the scope and purpose of the Act, and her role in this respect, is limited to making provision for the processing of personal data.
Responses to this call for evidence must be submitted by 19 September 2018.