For a lot of us, September can often seem like a new start. Summer is over, holidays come to an end and schools return for the new year. As well as this, it’s a time for change and no doubt, we’ll all be looking ahead to see how we can improve things for the future.
Today marks a significant change in how children and young people can be better protected whilst using the internet. The Information Commissioners Office has officially launched the Children’s Code to ensure that tech companies are doing everything they can to respect children’s privacy and work towards keeping them safe online.
What is the Children’s Code?
The children’s code is a set of guidelines associated with how tech companies should manage children and young peoples’ data in line with what the law allows whilst ensuring their rights are adhered to and prioritised. There has been a long history of tech companies using children’s data for the wrong purpose, such as, showing inappropriate content through ads, allowing unwanted followers to make contact and encouraging young people to stay online through psychological prompts.
With many of these, there are associated risks that can affect children’s wellbeing and can lead to significant amounts of harm. The new code is there to support tech companies in making necessary changes to how their platforms operate. The Information Commissioners Office is there to ensure that the code is being adhered to and offering support to those who need it.
A Time for Change
With the code launching today, it has been encouraging to see many online platforms, particularly social media sites already making impactful changes to how their apps are presented to young people. In the last year, some of the biggest names have announced new changes to how children’s profiles are managed including:
- Tiktok defaulting under 16 accounts to private
- Instagram defaulting under 16 accounts to private
- Instagram changing how advertisers can target young people
- Youtube updating privacy settings for young people
- Tiktok including wellbeing features and promoting kindness
David wright (Director of UK Safer Internet Centre) says:
Online harm occurs in many forms and we’ve seen how managing personal data can be one of them. The children’s code is another big step forward, not just for online safety but for how it goes towards changing the perspective. Young people deserve privacy, indeed they have rights and most importantly a right to be safe. We look forward to seeing the children’s code take effect and no doubt it will bring even more progress in making the internet a better place!