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The UK emphasizes the importance of prioritizing children’s privacy on social media.

How the UK plans to protect children’s privacy

Social media and video-sharing platforms need to prioritize children’s privacy online, as emphasized by the UK’s data protection body, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). The ICO has outlined its strategy for the upcoming year, focusing on addressing privacy and security risks for children across online platforms. This includes areas such as default privacy settings, geolocation data, targeted ads, recommender algorithms, and obtaining parental consent for children under 13.

As part of its Children’s Code of Practice initiative introduced in 2021, the ICO has committed to collaborating with other UK and international regulatory bodies to enhance data protection standards for children on a global scale.

John Edwards, the UK Information Commissioner, stressed the importance of safeguarding children’s privacy in the digital realm, stating that companies must not compromise children’s privacy in pursuit of profit. The design of online services and the usage of children’s personal information significantly influence young people’s digital experiences.

The ICO highlights the need for social media and video-sharing platforms to assess and mitigate potential data harms that children may face, urging them to take steps towards protecting young users. Concerns such as the heavy tracking of location data, utilization of behavioral profiling in algorithms, and risks associated with targeted advertisements are at the forefront of the UK’s data protection regulator.

Efforts are being made to have default privacy settings disabled for children’s accounts, and changes are proposed in how services acquire consent to use children’s personal information. For account holders under 13, parental consent will be mandatory. Edwards stresses the importance of platforms understanding and addressing the risks children face, encouraging them to prioritize data protection practices for the safety of young users.

The ICO’s commitment to enhancing children’s privacy online extends beyond the UK, with plans to collaborate with organizations globally to elevate data protection standards for children. Edwards is engaging with international regulators and online entities to advocate for stronger digital protections for children. His participation in events like the IAPP Global Privacy Summit 2024 and meetings with tech companies aim to accelerate the implementation of the ICO’s priorities by 2025.

Children’s privacy is a universal concern, and Edwards emphasizes the responsibility of businesses worldwide to ensure the appropriate use of children’s personal information, safeguarding them from online risks.

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