information society services

Online services have until 31 May to respond to 16 draft standards of age-appropriate design.

By Fiona Maclean and Olga M. Phillips

The ICO is required by s123 of the Data Protection Act 2018 to prepare a code of practice which contains guidance on standards of age-appropriate design of relevant information society services likely to be accessed by children. On 15 April, the ICO published a draft code of practice on age-appropriate design for online services (the Code). A copy of the Code can be found here.

Who does the Code apply to?

The Code is aimed at Information Society Services (ISS), which is defined as “any service normally provided for remuneration, at a distance, by electronic means and at the individual request of a recipient of services”. In practice, this definition extends to almost all online services including apps, websites, social media platforms, online messaging services, online marketplaces, content streaming services, and even news and educational websites.

The reference to “remuneration” is often seen as confusing. However, the ICO clarified that remuneration covers services funded by advertising, but also those provided to end users free of charge.

ISS should also note that the Code applies if children (i.e. a person under 18) are likely to use the service. This definition includes services that are designed specifically for children, as well as those that may appeal to children or those that were designed for adults but have, in fact, attracted children.