Tech companies in the UK were warned not to use so-called nudge techniques to encourage children to use more of their services or give up personal data, in a proposal for new rules from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
The data watchdog said such methods could lead children “to provide unnecessary personal data, weaken or turn off their privacy protections, or extend their use”. It cited “reward loops or positive reinforcement techniques (such as likes and streaks)” as examples of the techniques employed.
One instance is Snapstreaks, a feature which coaxes users to send friends a picture or video within a 24-hour period for at least three consecutive days. This also came under fire from UK MPs last month.
The ICO proposal looks at safeguarding users aged under 18 years and covers apps; social media platforms; online games; streaming services; and connected toys.
It states apps should not use language which presents a data-sharing option in a more positive light than the alternative, and not make it hard to select a high-privacy option.
Other elements in the plan include requiring settings to be on high privacy by default; collecting and retaining only the minimum amount of personal data; restrictions on sharing children’s data; and switching off geolocation services as standard, UK Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said in a statement.
She added the code is out for consultation until 31 May and is expected to come into effect before the end of the year.
Breaching the guidelines will carry potential fines under the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation of up to €20 million or 4 per cent of global turnover.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back