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New guidance: Information Commissioner’s Office issues new draft guidance for online services children are likely to access

Author: Atom Content Marketing

Published: 01 May 2023

Organisations providing online services that children are likely to access will welcome new draft guidance from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

The existing ICO code ‘Age appropriate design: a code of practice for online services’ contains 15 standards in relation to online services that are ’likely to be accessed by children’ under 18.

The new draft guidance aims to clarify what 'likely to be accessed by children’ means. It is particularly aimed at services not intended for use by children but which they may in reality access.

It includes FAQs, examples of factors to consider and case studies, and highlights the importance of keeping a record of assessments and regularly reviewing those assessments.

‘Online services’ include apps, social media websites, messaging services, online marketplaces (like Amazon or Ebay), streaming services, online educational and news sites for children, devices and toys that connect, search engines and the like. Since the code applies not only online services for children, but also to online services that children are likely to access, that means it will apply to most of these types of online services.

The services must not include, for example, content likely to be offensive, harmful or dangerous to children, or their welfare or well-being. There are prohibitions against swearing, violence or offensive/suggestive content, or content that encourages sexual activity among children.

The code is not legally binding, but following it helps organisations show they are complying with relevant law in the UK in this respect.

Views are sought on the new draft guidance until 19 May 2023.

Note that the government has also published high-level guidances for small and medium-sized entities and startups ‘Online safety guidance if you own or manage an online platform’ and ‘A business guide for protecting children on your online platform’, both of which emphasise the importance of the new code.

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This article from Atom Content Marketing is for general guidance only, for businesses in the United Kingdom governed by the laws of England. Atom Content Marketing, expert contributors and ICAEW (as distributor) disclaim all liability for any errors or omissions.

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