UK cracking down on child data privacy

UK cracking down on child data privacy
© iStock, The Hill illustration

The United Kingdom has issued a new set of standards to ramp up protections for children’s data privacy by curtailing platforms’ ability to pressure minors to reveal personal information. 

The new rules, sent Wednesday by the Information Commissioner’s Office for Parliament’s approval, would bar social media sites, games and other online platforms from “nudging” children to provide personal details or lower their privacy settings.

“There are laws to protect children in the real world — film ratings, car seats, age restrictions on drinking and smoking. We need our laws to protect children in the digital world too,” Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said. “In a generation from now, we will look back and find it astonishing that online services weren’t always designed with children in mind.”

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The new standards push the country’s tech companies to stop using techniques such as making one privacy option appear easier to encourage minors to give them extraneous personal details or turn off their privacy protections. The platforms will also have to use the new standards as a default for all users unless they can verify a user’s age.

Sharing a minor’s location and profiling children for behavior-based advertising should also be barred by default, the new rules say. Among other requirements are making “high privacy” settings the default and collecting a “minimum amount” of personal data from minors. 

The standards, which include 15 rules in all, apply to any online platform that could be used by a child and any companies that operate in the U.K.

Companies that violate the rules would be punished with a fine worth 4 percent of their global revenue, which could amount to billions of dollars for firms as large as some Silicon Valley titans that offer their services in the U.K. 

The platforms will get a year to transition to the new rules once Parliament grants its approval.