Insights Information Commissioner’s Office publishes new guidance for game developers on protecting children

The ICO has issued a series of recommendations to game developers to help ensure they protect children and comply with data protection laws. The recommendations are based on the ICO’s experiences and findings during a series of voluntary audits of game developers, studios and publishers within the gaming industry.

The ICO says that the recommendations will “ensure that games conform with the Children’s code”. They should also “assist design and gaming communities embed data protection considerations when designing gameplay”.

The Children’s code is a code of practice for online services likely to be accessed by children and explains how the UK’s General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR) applies to children using digital services.

The ICO recommends that games designers and providers:

  • identify if players are under the age of 18 with a reasonable degree of certainty and discourage false declarations of age;
  • ensure that games are not detrimental to children’s health and well-being by including checkpoints and age-appropriate prompts to encourage players to take breaks from extended play or help them to disengage from extended sessions without feeling pressurised to continue playing or becoming fearful of missing out;
  • turn off behavioural profiling for marketing by default; if a child chooses to opt into receiving ads, games designers and providers should implement measures to control or monitor product placement, advertising, or sponsorship arrangements where children can access community servers from within the game, including within community servers; and
  • discourage the use of “nudge techniques” to encourage children to make poor privacy decisions, including reviewing the marketing of social media competitions and partnerships to children and the encouraging of children to create social media accounts for fear of missing out on rewards.

To read the ICO’s press release in full and for a link to the guidance, click here.