Baroness Kidron is a leading voice on children's rights in the digital environment and a global authority on digital regulation and accountability. She has played a determinative role in establishing standards for online safety and privacy across the world.
Baroness Kidron sits as a crossbench peer in the UK's House of Lords. She is a Commissioner on the UNESCO Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development; a member of the Global Council on Extended Intelligence; a member of the Lancet Psychiatry Commission on Global Action on Problematic Usage of the Internet; a member of the Advisory Council for the University of Oxford’s Institute for Ethics in AI; a Senior Fellow in the Computer Science Department at University of Oxford; Chair of 5Rights Foundation and she chairs the Management Committee of the Digital Futures for Children, a joint LSE and 5Rights research centre.
Before being appointed to the Lords she was an award-winning film director and founder of the charity Filmclub (now Into Film).
In 2017, during the passage of the UK’s Data protection Act 2018 Kidron introduced an amendment to create the Age-Appropriate Design Code (AADC). The AADC requires online services to offer heightened privacy to under 18s that reflect the needs of their age and stage of development, taking into account their rights under UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The AADC prompted the redesign of digital products and services and introduced concepts and definitions that have become the benchmark for child-focused digital legislation in the EU, US and beyond.
In September 2022, the California Age-Appropriate Design Code Act was signed into law by the Governor of California, Gavin Newsom.
During the passage of the Online Safety Bill, Kidron unified all sides of the House to ensure significant strengthening of the bill, particularly in relation to children. The protections afforded to children under the Online Safety Act 2023 (as it is now) establish a new global standard and reinforce the upstream by design approach that characterised the AADC.
As a result, the Act includes robust standards on age assurance; a duty to consider harm created by the design of services that encompasses functionalities as well as content harms; a clear definition of harms on the face of the Act; and an articulation of the overarching purpose of the Act including a formal duty on services to be safe by design and to provide a higher standard of protection to children than adults.
Following a number of high-profile inquests in which bereaved families were denied access to data that may have shed light on the circumstance surrounding the death of a child, Kidron successfully campaigned for amendments to enable coroners to require access to data when an online company may have played a part in a child's death.
Kidron served as a member of the House of Lords Communications Select Committee for four years, contributing to inquiries and reports on UK Advertising in Digital Age,Growing Up with the Internet and Regulating in a Digital World, amongst others. She was a member of the Democracy and Digital Technologies Committee Inquiry and the pre-legislative Joint Committee on the Draft Online Safety Bill.
She is the Co-founder and Deputy Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Digital Regulation and Responsibility, which brings together parliamentarians from both Houses.
Children’s Digital Rights
In 2012, the smart phone hit a price point at which adults began to give them to children. As a filmmaker, Kidron became curious about the impact of technology on childhood. Her documentary, In Real Life was a life-changing catalyst for her campaign work.
In 2013, Kidron published 5Rights Framework which describes how children's rights under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child should manifest in the digital environment. Now superseded by a formal treaty document (General Comment 25), the 5rights served as manifesto for radical change, it called upon tech companies to redesign their services to be rights-respecting and age appropriate by design and by default.
The 5Rights personify the approach and focus of Kidron’s campaigning. They were drafted following broad consultation with academics, NGOs, parliamentarians and a handful of tech employees who preferred not to be named. Crucially, through imaginative, deliberative workshops, Kidron ensured children’s voices were central to the final framework.
In 2018, Baroness Kidron founded 5Rights Foundation with a mission to build the digital world children and young people deserve. 5Rights Foundation has grown to have a global influence with a team that is spread over 5 countries.
As Chair of 5Rights Foundation, Baroness Kidron chaired the drafting committee that supported the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in drafting General Comment no. 25 on Children’s Rights in Relation to the Digital Environment. The General Comment was formally adopted in March 2021 and stands as the most comprehensive articulation of the duties of states to children in the digital world. The 196 states party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) will have to report on its provisions.
Under Baroness Kidron’s leadership, the 5Rights Foundation has pioneered a range of international policies and programmes, such as developing a Child Online Protection Policy for the Government of Rwanda; creating a Global Model for Child Online Protection; and working in partnership with IEEE to create the IEEE 2089™-2021 – Standard for Age Appropriate Digital Services Framework – Based on the 5Rights Principles.
In 2020, Baroness Kidron and Professor Sonia Livingstone (LSE) launched a joint research project the Digital Futures Commission (DFC). After a successful three-year project undertaken with the support of Lego, BBC, Sesame Street and a host of academic institutions, the DFC has been reformed as a joint research centre of 5Rights and LSE.
Film and Education
Before taking up her seat in the House of Lords in 2012, Baroness Kidron spent 30 years as an award-winning film maker.
After a childhood illness left her unable to speak, at the age of eleven, Kidron was given a camera by photographer Fay Godwin. She took photographs throughout the rest of her childhood. Kidron left school at the age of 16 to work for legendary photographer Eve Arnold and then after a period travel, she attended the National Film and TV School.
Among a few of her directorial credits are Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit (1990) based on Jeanette Winterson’s bestselling novel which won three British Film and Television Awards including best drama series; Too Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar (1995) starring Patrick Swayze and Wesley Snipes; Used People, starring Shirley MacLaine and Kathy Bates; and Bridget Jones: the Edge of Reason (2004) starring Renee Zellweger, Colin Firth and Hugh Grant. Full credits at Imdb.com
In 2006, Kidron has a conversation in which she learnt teenage boys were turning away from reading. In response, she co-founded the education charity Into Film (previously FilmClub) which uses film to educate and inspire. From three schools in 2006, over two thirds of schools in the UK engage with Into Film’s programme of film clubs, special cinema screenings, and resources and training to support classroom teaching.
Her 2012 Ted Talk, The Shared Wonder of Film, viewed over a million times, describes film’s power to activate children’s curiosity and critical thinking, to illustrate the shared experience of being human, and to create communality across divides.