Insights Information Commissioner’s Office Children’s Code team launch open call for “transparency champions”


The ICO says that the Children’s Code transparency standard sets out a vision for better privacy information, where children can easily understand how, when and why services use their data free from friction, opacity or confusion. Online services are working hard to meet this vision, but the ICO says that there is still progress to be made.

A 2018 review of the 1,200 highest ranked apps targeted at children from the Google and Apple app-stores found the average reading age for privacy policies was 13 years-old – four years above the average reading age for an adult in the UK of nine. The ICO says that it has heard from stakeholders that privacy information can be hard to find and understand, and is too often treated as a tick-box exercise.

The ICO is keen to hear from online services, children’s rights advocates, designers, academics and anyone else working to deliver its vision to place the best interests of children at the heart of the online world. Participants are invited to submit ideas and examples of privacy information designs that meet the vision of the Children’s Code transparency standard. The deadline for submissions is 23.00 on 30 April 2021.

Submissions can be speculative designs, early-stage prototypes, or already used in the real world. All sectors and services are invited to take part, from connected toys to edtech. Concepts could speak to some or all of the good practice outlined in the Children’s Code, including:

  • providing privacy information in a child-friendly way, using wording, iconography or other forms of media that are tailored to the age of child users;
  • positioning privacy information within the user experience to ensure it responsibly captures children’s attention;
  • solutions for providing “bite-sized” privacy information at the point that its needed by children;
  • approaches for enabling children (and guardians) to seek more or less detail where wanted;
  • designing effective incentives and controls that encourage younger children to seek the support of an adult where needed;
  • examples of how organisations are measuring the accessibility and usability of privacy information; and
  • anything else that places the best interests of children at the forefront of privacy information design.

Submissions will be reviewed by the ICO’s Children’s Advisory Panel, who will choose a selection to publish on the ICO Children’s Code Hub as good practice for the Children’s Code community to learn from. The ICO will not crown “winners”, nor use submissions for anything other than championing good practice. For further information, click here.