EU law could stop kids using social media
European regulators could prevent under-16s from using social media without parental consent.
The changes have been proposed as a last-minute amendment to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a draft directive currently being debated by EU lawmakers.
The amendment states that companies handle the personal information of those under 16 with the consent of “the holder of parental responsibility over the child”.
Effectively, this would require explicit consent from a parent or guardian before teenagers signed up for any social media or internet service.
This proposal has raised strenuous objections from tech companies, who have added their voices to criticisms of the legislation.
The proposed laws have come under particular fire from child protection groups, and organisations such as the UK’s Family Online Safety Institute have penned an open letter to Brussels.
It stated that “moving the requirement for parental consent from age 13 to age 16 would deprive young people of educational and social opportunities in a number of ways, yet would provide no more (and likely even less) protection”.
It also suggests that the changes will simply force children to lie about their ages, rather than going to their parents for permission.
This, the letter said, “would make it far more difficult for online services to offer children age-appropriate guidance and tools to ensure a safe and privacy-protective experience online”.
The letter’s signatories have called on the regulators to either stick to the previous minimum age of 13, or to re-open the debate, allowing tech companies and parental groups to put forth their arguments.
The law will be decided on Thursday when legislators will vote on the proposal.
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