5 key principles of fair advertising to children

The Consumer Protection Cooperation (CPC) Network, endorsed 5 key principles of fair advertising towards children that were established by representatives from both consumer and data protection authorities during the European Year of Youth 2022

When designing their advertisement and marketing techniques, traders should consider the following principles to better protect children:

  • Specific vulnerabilities of children should be taken into account when designing advertisement or marketing techniques that are likely to be seen by children. 
    - (Online) Service providers must not design or operate their interface in a manner that deceives children or unduly influences them to take a particular action.
    - Certain marketing techniques, e.g., personalised marketing, could be inappropriate to use due to the specific vulnerabilities of children.
  • Children’s particular vulnerability because of their age or credulity is not to be exploited.
  • When general marketing content is addressed to children or is likely to be seen by them, the marketing purpose should be indicated in a manner that is appropriate and clear for children. 
  • Children are not to be targeted, urged or otherwise prompted to purchase in-app or in-game content, and games marketed for free should not require in-app or in-game purchases to play them in a satisfactory manner. 
  • Children should not be profiled for advertisement purposes.

These 5 key principles are without prejudice to the applicable EU legislation, in particular in the area of consumer and data protection, including, where applicable, the national rules implementing or executing those rules. Deciding on the legality of commercial practices, processing operations etc. under the applicable legislation always is solely for the competent authorities and courts and these principles therefore, by no means, bind the national authorities, the European Commission, the European Data Protection Board, or any other entity competent under the applicable legal framework.

Background

As digital business models increasingly rely on the use of personal data for commercial purposes, EU consumer and data protection law enforcers need to cooperate effectively to ensure coherent advice to businesses and to mutually support each other’s enforcement work under the respective legal framework. 

To this end, the European Commission, together with the Secretariat of the European Data Protection Board (EDPB), regularly organises joint workshops to discuss cases of common interests for both consumer and data protection law enforcers and to further enhance their exchange and cooperation. 

In order to further deepen this cooperation, consumer and data protection authorities, in July 2020, decided to set up a ‘group of volunteers among consumer and data protection authorities’ to promote the exchange and establish best practices as well as enforcement experiences both at the national and the EU level.

The 5 key principles of fair advertising towards children, set out and explained further in the following document, are a result of the work of this ‘group of volunteers among consumer and data protection authorities’:

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