United Kingdom plans bar on Facebook likes for kids

UK plans bar on Facebook likes for kids

Facebook urged to ditch 'like' feature in UK online child safety drive

Facebook and other social media firms should alert children if their parent or carer is monitoring their online activity, under proposed guidelines to improve child internet safety in the UK.

The code, which begins its consultation process on Monday and is hailed as an global benchmark, suggests 16 standards that online services must meet.

The list also states that companies should not use nudge techniques to encourage children to hand over unnecessary personal data, weaken or turn off their privacy protections, or extend their use.

Under the draft rules, tech companies would not be allowed to use "nudge techniques" that encourage children to keep using a site, such as "likes" on Facebook and Instagram or "streaks" on Snapchat.

This list, now under consultation, includes a "high privacy" setting to be activated by default and the scrapping of nudge techniques created to encourage children to forfeit their privacy or hand over personal data without good reason.

Elizabeth Denham, the United Kingdom information commissioner, said: "This is the connected generation. The internet and all its wonders are hardwired into their everyday lives", Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said.

"In an age when children learn how to use a tablet before they can ride a bike, making sure they have the freedom to play, learn and explore in the digital world is of paramount importance", she said in a statement.

The consultation will last until the end of May 2019, and the final version of the code of practice, touted as a new worldwide standard, is expected to come into effect by 2020.

The UK's NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children) welcomed the proposed changes, adding that social networks had "continually failed to prioritise child safety in their design", resulting in "tragic consequences".

High privacy settings should be the default for accounts belonging to children, while geolocation services should have to be opted into rather than out of, it continued.

When this is in effect the ICO will have the power to fine companies up to £17m if the break the rules.

"But in order to fulfil that role, it must consider the best interests of children, not simply its own commercial interests".

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