Here are breaches of trust, safeguarding, privacy and law. They expose kids to risks of online harm and discrimination.

Charities and public services must not share kids or encourage kids to share their troubles with social media and ad systems.

Social media only allow sites to use their embeds if sites respect terms regarding age limits, parental consent and data collection.

Had these organisations paid attention to the terms, they may have realised that what they were doing was wrong.

If you are distressed by any content, please seek support. The Samaritans are available on 116 123.

Whizz Kids

Whizz Kids' Public Notice

Please read How Whizz-Kidz keeps your data safe and what it means for you

When last checked, there are still failings.

The charity appears to acknowledge this with the exceptions they note in their response (9th March below) that also advises that their efforts are still ongoing.

What is the charity getting wrong?

Some of their pages like this one aimed at helping Kids learn Wheelchair skills, include videos.

The video content is hosted using YouTube embeds and therefore directing the children to the online harms risks of YouTube.

The embeds are also not using YouTube's privacy enhanced mode. Thus, from a privacy perspective this is a worse situation than the Childline situation currently.

As a result of this, identifiable data is being sent to YouTube, without user consent, from the Whizz Kids website, that indicates the user is a kid trying to learn skills in their wheelchair, revealing a disability to YouTube. Data, that YouTube advises they will use for various purposes including their analytics, personalised adverts and video recommendations.

Furthermore, the YouTube embed asks the child to "Watch on youtube.com" when they hover over the YouTube icon and the video title takes the child to YouTube. Thus the embed the charity has chosen, is encouraging the kid to go to YouTube, where they are then at risk to the online harms risks outlined on the NSPCC article on this site.

Raising the complaint

4th January 2023, Whizz Kids and the ICO received a complaint detailing how Whizz Kids were sharing data with YouTube.

Summary of their response

5th January

Acknowledgement of receipt of complaint.

6th January

An apology to me (which I am grateful for) and summary of actions taken so far:

  • YouTube videos in ‘privacy mode’ – we are investigating this matter and will implement an appropriate action plan.
  • Due to the weaknesses you have helped us to identify, we are looking at more robust cookie and consent management systems for our site going forwards.
  • We will update our Cookie Policy to include YouTube and other cookies which are currently not listed.

9th March

Thank you for your patience whilst we took further action following your email sent on 15/02/2023.

We have reviewed our cookie banner and ensured that it is working effectively. All website users landing on the Whizz-Kidz website for the first time will be opted out of all but essential cookies until or unless they accept this use of cookies. The exception to this is those that YouTube place as a condition of using their videos on our website. Due to the weaknesses you have helped us to identify, we continue to research more robust cookie and consent management systems for our site going forwards.

We have removed the Facebook tracking pixel from all website pages except for our fundraising (e.g. London Marathon/Gift in Wills) and donation pages. These are only for individuals aged 18 plus.

We have edited our cookie policy to better explain Facebook and YouTube’s usage of cookies on our website; please see www.whizz-kidz.org.uk/cookies

We have published a blog post, drawing attention to the changes that we have made: www.whizz-kidz.org.uk/discover/post/how-whizz-kidz-keeps-your-data-safe-and-what-it-means-for-you

We are in ongoing communication with the ICO to ensure that we are following their advice and guidance on best practice. We will wait for the ICO’s guidance before communicating again on this matter.

Thank you again for taking the time to get in contact with your concerns.

Still waiting...

The response is a little worrying, as YouTube cookies are not appropriate on the page.

I am not aware whether they have completed the efforts to improve their site, but hope not as last checked, YouTube was still loading.