UK children’s digital privacy code comes into effect

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Age Appropriate Design Code mandates apps to take ‘best interests’ of child users into account

A sweeping set of regulations governing how online services should treat children’s data have been welcomed by campaigners as they come into effect.

The Age Appropriate Design Code – which was written into law as part of the 2018 Data Protection Act, which also implemented GDPR in the UK – mandates websites and apps from Thursday to take the “best interests” of their child users into account, or face fines of up to 4% of annual global turnover.

Unless they can prove their service is not likely to be used at all by children, companies now face a choice: they must make their entire offering compatible with the code or attempt to identify younger users and treat them with care. The code prohibits the use of “nudge” techniques aimed at encouraging children to give up more of their privacy than they would otherwise choose to, calls on companies to minimise the data they collect about children and requires them to offer children privacy options that default to the maximum security.