Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham has fired a warning shot across the bows of the UK video games industry after expressing concerns about the "lack of clarity" around how firms collect consumers’ personal data.
Denham aired her concerns at a Parliamentary hearing, which is part of an ongoing inquiry into immersive and addictive technologies being carried out by the Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport Committee.
She said that games firms had not made it "particularly clear to us just how much data they’re gathering and how it’s being processed and used".
When asked whether the games industry was a concern for the ICO, Denham confirmed her department has been speaking to publishers and developers about the Age Appropriate Design Code the ICO is working on to better protect children online.
She said: "We feel that the industry, e-gaming, has some maturation to do in understanding what their obligations are in data protection law. That industry is quite concerned about our code because it feels it will undermine or impact the business model of those games, through nudges and reward loops and the way those techniques are built into games."
Denham did note, however, that the ICO does not currently have any active investigations into how games companies are using people’s information.
However, her deputy, Steve Wood maintained that the industry had been identified as an area of regulatory action priority.
He added: "We will follow up and use our powers where necessary to use our code as a template to do audits, to look at practices, to see whether we’re actually getting that step-change.
"[This is all about] putting the best interests of the child at the centre of the way these services are designed. That really hasn’t happened extensively yet."