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Child-friendly transparency of data processing in the EU: from legal requirements to platform policies


Children data protection GDPR transparency privacy policy Instagram Snapchat TikTok co-design cocreation European Union

Publication details

Year: 2018
DOI: 10.1080/17482798.2019.1701055
Issued: 2019
Language: English
Volume: 14
Issue: 1
Start Page: 5
End Page: 21
Authors: Milkaite I.; Lievens E.
Type: Journal article
Journal: Journal of Children and Media
Publisher: Informa UK Limited
Topics: Online safety and policy regulation
Sample: The article carries out an in-depth theoretical analysis of articles 12,13 and 14 GDPR, the relevant recitals and guidelines by data protection authorities (DPAs) in the section entitled “Theoretical analysis of articles 12, 13 and 14 GDPR: the child’s right to transparent information about data processing”. It also reports on the results on the data protection policies of Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok.
Implications For Policy Makers About: Creating a safe environment for children online; Stepping up awareness and empowerment


Vast amounts of personal data of children are collected and processed in today’s increasingly digital, connected society by public and private actors. Children do have a right to the protection of their personal data and, according to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), even merit specific protection. Children should be clearly informed of and understand what happens with their data when it is collected, processed, stored and transferred. To that end, specific transparency standards require the provision of information in a clear and plain language that the child can easily understand. In this article, after having mapped these existing requirements, the privacy policies of Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok — services which are very popular with children — are evaluated. The findings suggest that such policies are still complex, long and primarily text based. In order to improve this, possible practical ways of enhancing transparency for children such as legal visualization, co-design, co-creation techniques and participatory design methods which focus on presenting legal information in a transparent and clear manner are explored.


"Both children and adults use online services and often accept their terms and conditions without actually reading them or feel they do not have a genuine choice (not) to agree with data policies. It might not be fair to expect data subjects – adults, but especially (young) children – to understand the often very complex and opaque data collection and processing practices. Whereas this does not mean that no information should be provided to them. Especifically with respect to children and the special protection they deserve with regard to their personal data. The responsibility for undertanding cannot be placed solely on their shoulders, nor on those of their parents. Efforts by online service providers and data protection authorities should be enhanced in order to ensure fair and transparent processing of children’s personal information. It is time for service providers to invest in innovative ways to offer information, which may in the end lead to enhanced trust relationships with their users. An important guarantee for reaching this goal is actually including children in information design and evaluation processes. Also, improvement for moving from text based, long policies to more engaging formats and understandable language adapted to different ages of users and other – more inventive – formats of information should be considered as well." (Milkaite & Lievens, 2020, pp. 17-18)

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