GDPR - Children and profiling

Article 22 (Automated individual decision-making, including profiling) itself makes no distinction as to whether the processing concerns adults or children. However, recital 71 says that solely automated decision-making, including profiling, with legal or similarly significant effects should not apply to children. Given that this wording is not reflected in the Article itself, WP29 does not consider that this represents an absolute prohibition on this type of processing in relation to children. However, in the light of this recital, WP29 recommends that, wherever possible, controllers should not rely upon the exceptions in Article 22(2) to justify it.

There may nevertheless be some circumstances in which it is necessary for controllers to carry out solely automated decision-making, including profiling, with legal or similarly significant effects in relation to children, for example to protect their welfare. If so, the processing may be carried out on the basis of the exceptions in Article 22(2)(a), (b) or (c) as appropriate. The need for particular protection for children is reflected in recital 38, which says:

Children merit specific protection with regard to their personal data, as they may be less aware of the risks, consequences and safeguards concerned and their rights in relation to the processing of personal data. Such specific protection should, in particular, apply to the use of personal data of children for the purposes of marketing or creating personality or user profiles and the collection of personal data with regard to children when using services offered directly to a child.

Because children represent a more vulnerable group of society, organisations should, in general, refrain from profiling them for marketing purposes. Children can be particularly susceptible in the online environment and more easily influenced by behavioural advertising. For example, in online gaming, profiling can be used to target players that the algorithm considers are more likely to spend money on the game as well as providing more personalised adverts. The age and maturity of the child may affect their ability to understand the motivation behind this type of marketing or the consequences.

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Compliance Technology Solutions B.V. 2018

Russell is the author of this solution article.

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