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Social Media Firms Could Face Billion Pound Fines

Social Media companies and Tech giants could face billions of pounds worth of fines if they target children with "addictive features" found to keep them online. The new legally enforceable code has been launched by the Government as it seeks to control the sector.

The data watchdog, Elizabeth Denham, has ruled that "sticky features" should not be used to attract children. Such methods currently in use include; notifications, auto-play, reward loops or continuous scrolling. 

The Government has acknowledged that there is no officially revealed evidence to suggest excessive time online is detrimental to a childs welfare. However the UK's chief medical officers have suggested that a "precautionary approach" should be adopted.

As such firms will need to introduce "pause buttons" so that children can take a break from gaming without losing their positions. Additionally notice warnings will be introduced to prompt children to take a break.

Ms Denham will police and enforce the code, as the Information Commissioner, via the Data Protection Act of 2018. Hence she will have the power to fine businesses upto 4% of their global turnover. In the case of Facebook that equates to £1.65 billion and £3.4 billion for Google.

By December 2019 firms will need to adopt an "age appropriate design" code which will require them to adopt strict age checks. 

For confidential legal advice, on any matter, please call our team of specialist solicitors on 0844 556 3525.

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