TIGA, the network for game developers and digital publishers, has commented on today’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee’s oral evidence session as part of their inquiry into immersive and addictive technologies. Witnesses before the Committee included Elizabeth Denham, Information Commissioner, Steve Wood, Deputy Commissioner (Policy), Information Commissioner’s Office and Margot James MP, Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries.
Commenting on the session, Dr Richard Wilson OBE, TIGA CEO said:
“Once again MPs expressed concerns about freemium games, data collection, lack of research, excessive play, loot boxes, and online harms. The Minister herself expressed concerns over excessive screen time and said that games businesses should take the WHO’s definition of ‘gaming disorder’ very seriously.
“The Minister and the Information Commissioner today confirmed that greater regulation is coming. The Information Commissioner is introducing an Age Appropriate Design Code which will significantly impact the video games industry. Child privacy regulation has been identified as an area of priority by the ICO. The DCMS will also be introducing a statutory ‘duty of care’ to make companies take more responsibility for the safety of their users.
“Elizabeth Denham, Information Commissioner, made it quite clear that organistions, including games companies, should not be passive in relation to vulnerable users. Instead, companies should approach the ICO about how they can collect data in a privacy-friendly way, so that they can actively identify and help people who are vulnerable.
“TIGA welcomes the Commissioner’s intentions of taking a proportionate approach to enforcing compliance with their Age Appropriate Design Code. It is encouraging that the ICO recognise that small developers will need additional assistance during the Code’s transition period, as well as clear guidance on what is expected of them.
“The Commissioner has called on large companies within industry to come up with technological solutions on matters such as age-verification. The ICO are aware large tech companies, including large game companies, have the datasets to estimate the age of their players. They also stated that the intention of their Code is not to implement wide-spread age verification, but to provoke better design and encourage innovation.
“TIGA has published best practice advice about safeguarding players and we will be exploring further ways to work with our members, the Government, the ICO and DCMS Select Committee to advance players’ wellbeing.”