On 2 September 2021, the transition year for the Children’s code (or Age Appropriate Design Code) published by the UK Information Commissioner (“ICO”) ended. The ICO’s Children’s code was first published in September 2020, with a 12-month transition period. In an accompanying blog, the ICO has stated that it will be “proactive in requiring social media platforms, video and music streaming sites and the gaming industry to tell [the ICO] how their services are designed in line with the code.”

Over the summer, the ICO has also approved two certification schemes under the UK GDPR. The certification schemes provide organizations with a mechanism to demonstrate their high level of commitment to data protection compliance.

The schemes were developed by Age Check Certification Scheme (“ACCS”), and outlines the criteria for: (i) age assurance products (see here); and (ii) age appropriate design of information society services based on the Children’s code (see here).

  • Age Assurance (ACCS-2): This scheme sets out the technical requirements for age-checking services, such as Proof-of-Age ID providers, Age Check Providers, Age Exchange Service Providers, Electronic ID Validation Services, and Analytical and Profiling Services.
  • Children’s Online Privacy (ACCS-3): This scheme sets out the technical requirements that organizations subject to the Children’s code could comply with to demonstrate compliance with the Children’s code.

The above-mentioned certification schemes work hand in hand, so that organizations could obtain certifications under both schemes to demonstrate compliance with the Children’s code. Organizations seeking certification under these schemes may do so by directly applying to the certification body, the ACCS. Achieving certification will generally require the following:

  • Defining the scope of the certification e.g. specifying the product, process or service for assessment and certification (as set out in Section 1 of the certification schemes);
  • Mapping the data processing operations associated with the relevant product, process or services; and
  • Payment of a fee to the ACCS to conduct audits and testing to ensure that the product, process or service meets the scheme criteria.

If an organization meets the certification scheme criteria, ACCS will issue a certificate and allow the organization to use and display a specific mark to demonstrate that it has achieved certification. Certification is voluntary but it can help organizations to achieve a competitive advantage, demonstrate compliance with the UK GDPR, show transparency and accountability, instill trust and confidence in customers, and improve the standards of the organization. The certification only applies to products, processes or services that are established in the UK, or, if established outside the UK, are offered to individuals in the UK / monitors the behavior of individuals in the UK.

The ICO’s Children’s code is consistent with and referred to in both the Irish Data Protection Commission’s draft Fundamentals for a Child-Oriented Approach to Data Processing (see our blog here) and the French CNIL’s Recommendations for Protecting Minors Online (see our blog here).

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Photo of Dan Cooper Dan Cooper

Daniel Cooper is co-chair of Covington’s Data Privacy and Cyber Security Practice, and advises clients on information technology regulatory and policy issues, particularly data protection, consumer protection, AI, and data security matters. He has over 20 years of experience in the field, representing…

Daniel Cooper is co-chair of Covington’s Data Privacy and Cyber Security Practice, and advises clients on information technology regulatory and policy issues, particularly data protection, consumer protection, AI, and data security matters. He has over 20 years of experience in the field, representing clients in regulatory proceedings before privacy authorities in Europe and counseling them on their global compliance and government affairs strategies. Dan regularly lectures on the topic, and was instrumental in drafting the privacy standards applied in professional sport.

According to Chambers UK, his “level of expertise is second to none, but it’s also equally paired with a keen understanding of our business and direction.” It was noted that “he is very good at calibrating and helping to gauge risk.”

Dan is qualified to practice law in the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Belgium. He has also been appointed to the advisory and expert boards of privacy NGOs and agencies, such as Privacy International and the European security agency, ENISA.

Photo of Mark Young Mark Young

Mark Young, an experienced tech regulatory lawyer, advises major global companies on their most challenging data privacy compliance matters and investigations.

Mark also leads on EMEA cybersecurity matters at the firm. He advises on evolving cyber-related regulations, and helps clients respond to…

Mark Young, an experienced tech regulatory lawyer, advises major global companies on their most challenging data privacy compliance matters and investigations.

Mark also leads on EMEA cybersecurity matters at the firm. He advises on evolving cyber-related regulations, and helps clients respond to incidents, including personal data breaches, IP and trade secret theft, ransomware, insider threats, and state-sponsored attacks.

Mark has been recognized in Chambers UK for several years as “a trusted adviser – practical, results-oriented and an expert in the field;” “fast, thorough and responsive;” “extremely pragmatic in advice on risk;” and having “great insight into the regulators.”

Drawing on over 15 years of experience advising global companies on a variety of tech regulatory matters, Mark specializes in:

  • Advising on potential exposure under GDPR and international data privacy laws in relation to innovative products and services that involve cutting-edge technology (e.g., AI, biometric data, Internet-enabled devices, etc.).
  • Providing practical guidance on novel uses of personal data, responding to individuals exercising rights, and data transfers, including advising on Binding Corporate Rules (BCRs) and compliance challenges following Brexit and Schrems II.
    Helping clients respond to investigations by data protection regulators in the UK, EU and globally, and advising on potential follow-on litigation risks.
  • GDPR and international data privacy compliance for life sciences companies in relation to:
    clinical trials and pharmacovigilance;

    • digital health products and services; and
    • marketing programs.
    • International conflict of law issues relating to white collar investigations and data privacy compliance.
  • Cybersecurity issues, including:
    • best practices to protect business-critical information and comply with national and sector-specific regulation;
      preparing for and responding to cyber-based attacks and internal threats to networks and information, including training for board members;
    • supervising technical investigations; advising on PR, engagement with law enforcement and government agencies, notification obligations and other legal risks; and representing clients before regulators around the world; and
    • advising on emerging regulations, including during the legislative process.
  • Advising clients on risks and potential liabilities in relation to corporate transactions, especially involving companies that process significant volumes of personal data (e.g., in the adtech, digital identity/anti-fraud, and social network sectors.)
  • Providing strategic advice and advocacy on a range of EU technology law reform issues including data privacy, cybersecurity, ecommerce, eID and trust services, and software-related proposals.
  • Representing clients in connection with references to the Court of Justice of the EU.
Photo of Sam Jungyun Choi Sam Jungyun Choi

Sam Jungyun Choi is an associate in the technology regulatory group in the London office. Her practice focuses on European data protection law and new policies and legislation relating to innovative technologies such as artificial intelligence, online platforms, digital health products and autonomous…

Sam Jungyun Choi is an associate in the technology regulatory group in the London office. Her practice focuses on European data protection law and new policies and legislation relating to innovative technologies such as artificial intelligence, online platforms, digital health products and autonomous vehicles. She also advises clients on matters relating to children’s privacy and policy initiatives relating to online safety.

Sam advises leading technology, software and life sciences companies on a wide range of matters relating to data protection and cybersecurity issues. Her work in this area has involved advising global companies on compliance with European data protection legislation, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the UK Data Protection Act, the ePrivacy Directive, and related EU and global legislation. She also advises on a variety of policy developments in Europe, including providing strategic advice on EU and national initiatives relating to artificial intelligence, data sharing, digital health, and online platforms.

Jiayen Ong

Jiayen Ong is a Trainee Solicitor who attended Queen Mary, University of London.