Children and GDPR
Protecting Children’s Data Online
Just over a year ago, in May 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into effect in the UK. The aim of the GDPR is to give consumers control over how their data is used online. This means that customer data cannot be sold, passed on, or kept insecurely by digital businesses. Finally, direct marketing can only be carried out if a customer has expressly given consent.
The success of the GDPR is largely down to the hefty penalties that can be exacted by the Independent Commissioner’s Office, should online business break the rules. Consumers are also required to be vigilant as to how businesses are using their data, and to give consent only if they believe that their data is secure, and is being handled with appropriate care.
The Age of Consent for GDPR is 13 in the UK
The GDPR is an EU directive which allows individual member states to determine their specific age of consent. In the UK, young people over the age of 13 are required to give their consent for the processing of their data. This is currently the lower limit for consent, with many EU states opting for 16.
Consent is given when young people agree to the Terms & Conditions attached to an online platform. However, there are concerns that very few young people pay any attention to these long and complex documents. It’s likely, therefore, that they give consent without fully understanding what they’re signing up to.
Is 13 an Appropriate Age to Make Informed Decisions About Data?
At present, there’s little attention being paid to this ‘grey’ area of consent. The truth is that the vast majority of young people aged 13 or over are offering uninformed consent to a wide variety of social media platforms. These include Instagram, SnapChat, FaceBook and Twitter.
The ICO raises a number of concerns and questions that will need to be addressed as the UK looks to tighter regulation around social media:
- Terms & Conditions need to be age sensitive (to ensure they can be understood by young people)
- Parental support may be required to prove that consent is informed
- Should 13-16 year olds receive targetted marketing if there’s no proof of ‘informed’ consent?
- How can children be informed of their rights to erasure once they’ve provided consent?
AgeChecked provides online age verification for websites that sell age-restricted goods and services.