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Adult-only services and The Children’s Code

Adult only Information Society Service (ISS) providers may not be intended for access by children, but that doesn’t mean the Children’s Code doesn’t apply.

There are many internet based services available these days that are specifically intended for adults.

These websites, such as online dating sites, social media and some gaming sites, do not, and would never, intend for children to access their services. Most carry ‘over 18’ declaration requirements to create profiles, or in some cases, simply to access content.

However, children do occasionally access these sites, despite the best efforts of all involved.

The Children’s Code is in place to protect children online and applies to all services ‘likely to be accessed by children‘. There are 15 standards for online services to follow to ensure they are compliant with legislation and, most importantly, protecting children’s data when they are online.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) places the onus on the service providers themselves to appropriately assess whether their service is likely to be accessed by children, regardless of the intended audience. There are several factors to be considered, ranging from whether children are known to like the type of content available, to known information about the ages of visitors to that service.

All ISS providers, no matter the size or design, are urged to properly assess whether their service is likely to be accessed by a significant number of children and, if it is likely that it is, to follow the Children’s Code as part of their data protection processes.

There is no requirement to prove that children do or do not access the service directly and there is  a self-assessment tool available online for those who may be unfamiliar with the requirements of the code itself. The ICO also offers mock case studies to help guide those who may be unclear as to whether this will apply to them.

BLS Stay Compliant has over 50 years of combined experience with data protection legislation and offer a range of services to guide our clients with their compliance. If we can assist you, please do get in touch.

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