What is the AADC Code? (Age Appropriate Design Code)

The Age Appropriate Design (Code) legislation (AADC) in the UK is due to come into force in UK law 2nd September 2021. This legislation falls under section 123(1) of the Data Protection Act 2018 (“the DPA”).

This code is guidance from the UK Information Commissioner’s Office. As a result, it details standards for web content that is accessible by children under 18.

What is AADC for Children?

AADC applies to any company serving adult content to a UK audience and limits what children can access.

This covers social media, gaming, search engines and so forth. However, website owners should consider the content that they serve and the data they collect from anyone under 18.

ICO and Implementation of AADC

As an example, the ICO term content “Likely to be accessed by children”.

The actual implementation of best practices is quite broad for all media service types. However, the general principle is that content served and accessed by under 18’s is appropriate and there are safeguards in place to stop users under 18 from accessing non-appropriate content.

How Can AADC Stop under 18’s Accessing Inappropriate Content?

You may have seen age checkboxes on websites for movie trailers and so forth where the user can enter a random date. This is a very weak method of enabling access to adult content.

Therefore, there are more sophisticated validation systems available for media companies. Examples are https://verifymyage.co.uk/ and https://www.agechecked.com/.

Companies that use these age validation services typically fall into one of the below sectors:

  • Media streaming including movie trailers.
  • Vaping and Smoking.
  • Knives and other weapons.
  • Gambling.
  • Pharmaceutical.
  • Alcohol.
  • Adult content/nudity/pornography.
  • Community Boards.
  • Gaming.

How Do I Know If I Have Adult Content Under AADC?

You should review your website content and if you run a website or platform that hosts user-generated content scan the databases for adult references.

For example, if you determine that you are serving adult content, you can either remove it and modify your Terms and Conditions or implement an age validation system.

If the ICO determine that you are not complying, the potential fine is 4% of global group turnover or £17.5m.

What AADC Certification is Available?

The ICO has been working with the Age Check Certification Scheme for approved certification criteria for the children’s code both through age checking and privacy. As a result, through this service, you can certify your online services and get certified.

This certification falls under a UK GDPR Certified Scheme, and has the UKAS Product Certification badge.