Social media sites, online games and streaming services used by children will have to abide by a new privacy code set by the UK's data watchdog.
Elizabeth Denham, the information commissioner, said future generations will be “astonished to think that we ever didn't protect kids online”.
She said the new Age Appropriate Design Code will be “transformational”.
The father of Molly Russell, 14, who killed herself after viewing graphic content online, welcomed the standards.
Watchdog cracks down on tech firms that fail to protect children
Technology companies will be required to assess their sites for sexual abuse risks, prevent self-harm and pro-suicide content, and block children from broadcasting their location, after the publication of new rules for “age-appropriate design” in the sector.
The UK Information Commissioner’s Office, which was tasked with creating regulations to protect children online, will enforce the new rules from autumn 2021, after one-year transition period. After which companies that break the law can face sanctions comparable to those under GDPR, including fines of up to £17m or 4% of global turnover.
Britain Plans Vast Privacy Protections for Children
Britain unveiled sweeping new online protections for children on Tuesday, issuing expansive rules despite widespread objections from a number of tech companies and trade groups.
The rules will require social networks, gaming apps, connected toys and other online services that are likely to be used by people under 18 to overhaul how they handle those users’ personal information. In particular, they will require platforms like YouTube and Instagram to turn on the highest possible privacy settings by default for minors, and turn off by default data-mining practices like targeted advertising and location tracking for children in the country.
ICO publishes Code of Practice to protect children’s privacy online
Today the Information Commissioner’s Office has published its final Age Appropriate Design Code – a set of 15 standards that online services should meet to protect children’s privacy.
Age appropriate design: a code of practice for online services
Data sits at the heart of the digital services children use every day. From the moment a young person opens an app, plays a game or loads a website, data begins to be gathered. Who’s using the service? How are they using it? How frequently? Where from? On what device?