ICO issues guidance for platforms when moderating online content

February 22, 2024
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The guidance aims to help organisations caught by the Online Safety Act to also comply with data protection laws.

The ICO has issued guidance to organisations that come within the scope of the Online Safety Act 2023 to help them comply with data protection law as they carry out content moderation to meet their online safety duties.

Content moderation is commonly used by organisations to analyse content generated by users to check if it is appropriate for publication on their platforms. This process involves using people’s personal information and the ICO says that it can cause harm if incorrect decisions are made.

In the guidance on content moderation, the ICO outlines how data protection law applies to these processes and the impacts they can have on people’s information rights.

It explains how data protection law applies when platforms use content moderation technologies and processes. It provides practical advice to help comply with the UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR) and the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA 2018).

The ICO points out that if organisations are processing children’s personal information, they should conform with the Children’s code. The ICO uses “child” to refer to anyone under the age of 18. The Code is a statutory code of practice that sets out how internet society services likely to be accessed by children can protect children’s information rights online. It sets out fifteen standards that platforms should implement if they are an internet society service.

The Data Protection and Digital Information Bill was reintroduced in the Houses of Parliament on 8 March 2023. Assuming it becomes law, it will amend elements of the DPA 2018 and the UK GDPR relevant to this guidance. The ICO has written this guidance in line with current law. This guidance on content moderation is the first in a series of products the ICO has planned about online safety technologies. The ICO says it is working with Ofcom on the project and will update the guidance when Ofcom’s final codes of practice are published.