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Beeban Kidron


Children’s digital rights advocate and founder, 5Rights Foundation

VISIONARY No. 3

It’s not often someone goes from directing a “Bridget Jones” movie to quarterbacking arguably some of the most far-reaching privacy changes anywhere in the world. But Beeban Kidron — a member of the United Kingdom’s House of Lords and founder of 5Rights, a children’s rights campaigning group — has done just that. She was instrumental in the British government issuing its Age Appropriate Design Code, a set of rules that apply to any search engine, social media platform or online marketplace with users in the country.

Despite its U.K. focus, the code — and Kidron’s campaigning — has been taken up globally. Just ahead of the standards coming into force, YouTube said it would turn off, globally, its autoplay feature for users aged 13-17 years old; Facebook agreed to ban microtargeted ads for minors; and TikTok stopped showing notifications to children after 9 p.m. Similar codes of practice are popping up across the West, with the California state legislature pushing ahead with reforms that mirror what Kidron achieved in London.

“Most of the things that put children at risk in the digital system are not bugs; they are features,” she told POLITICO. 5Rights, her nonprofit organization, is increasingly turning its attention to the European Commission’s proposals to stop child sexual abuse material from spreading online.

“We’ve been told for years that any one of those [product] changes was impossible, radical and against the business interest. That it would never happen. And now there’s a whole raft of them, and I believe more to come,” she added.

What to watch out for this year: Kidron will be a vocal campaigner around the U.K.’s upcoming social media rules, known as the Online Safety Bill, as well as a champion for other countries to adopt versions of the country’s design code.

What’s their superpower: Explaining why the reasons tech companies don’t want to alter their practices aimed at children are often more bluster than fact.

Influence score: 19/30

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