Apple has updated its guidelines for app developers to include specific rules relating to apps that are intended for use by children under the age of 13. This comes following recent issues that arose over the way in which app developers were targeting children.

The new guidelines contain strict rules regarding the promotion of apps targeted at children under the age of 13. The new requirements include:

  • The need to have a Privacy Policy attached to the app
  • A prohibition on the use of behaviour advertising
  • A request that parental permission be obtained prior to linking out of the app or engaging in any purchases

An opinion by European data protection supervisors that was published in April this year also addressed the fair and lawful processing of children’s data by data controllers (see our previous article here).

These changes pre-empt the publication this autumn of a report on children’s apps by the UK Office of Fair Trading (OFT). Notably, Apple has made these amendments in advance of its upcoming educational policy changes and in response to the expansion in the US of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) earlier this year which prohibits the collection of information from children under the age of 13 without parental consent.

Whether these new guidelines mark an acknowledgement of the need to protect children in an online environment or are simply a reaction to negative publicity remains to be seen, but they will undoubtedly impact on the way both app developers and Apple conduct business that relates to children.