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19 January 2013

BBC, Dates of Birth and websites

Complaint to the BBC, also to any other website which "needs" a date of birth to sign up.

Dear BBC I am complaining that I have to give a full date of birth, instead of confirmation of age, when registering for a BBC ID. Asking for a full date of birth contravenes the 3rd principle of the data protection act and is therefore illegal.

You state "Why are you asking for my date of birth? We ask for your date of birth to create a safer environment for younger users. Some BBC services are specifically for certain ages only. If you are under 16, we need to get your parent's consent before you can complete your registration. If you are under 16 and want to give us your email address, we need to email your parent or guardian for consent before you can start using your BBC account."

If you want to verify I am over 16 then a simple checkbox would be sufficient. This works for Amazon, who sell age related goods and who also have to comply with the law. The checkbox is also good enough for you when I submit this complaint as a simple drop list asks "Are you over 13" yes or no. That's all you need for the main site too.

The 3rd principle of the data protection act states "Personal data shall be adequate, relevant and not excessive in relation to the purpose or purposes for which they are processed."

A date of birth rather than confirmation I am over 16 is not only excessive but it also opens up the opportunity for ID theft. It also allows the analysis of registered people by age, which I should have the option to opt out of.

Please amend this policy and delete all dates of birth before I complain to the information commissioner.

See also previous blog article

Craig Cockburn, Chartered IT Professional.
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