New EU Law can stop kids under 16 from using social media without permission
European Union lawmakers have come to a decision over the digital age of consent. The new ruling will allow each European State to set their own age of consent within the margin of 13 and 16 years old. The digital age of consent is the minimum age a child has to be before they can sign up to a social media service such as Twitter, Facebook or Snapchat without needing parental permission.
As it stands, the digital age of consent in the EU is 13, the same as the US. But during the drafting of the data regulations a proposed change to raise the age to 16 was made. It has immediately drawn criticism from tech firms, with a coalition of companies including Google and Facebook claiming that the amendment was rushed. Many social media companies rely heavily on the teen market, and require fast growth in order to justify their business models of offering their products for free. Critics have also noted that the age of consent hardly matters as there is no real way to enforce it; it only hinders child protection and education.
The new regulations are likely to be more restrictive on tech companies than has previously been seen. If companies fail to comply with the new regulations, the EU can now impose a fine of up to 4% of their global sales. It also holds firms responsible for making sure the rules are complied with even if their data handling is being outsourced to a third party. In the event of a data breach, the regulations state that companies must alert national authorities within 72 hours.
In a statement to the press, the European Parliament’s lead MEP on the regulation, Jan Philipp Albrecht, said, “The regulation returns control over citizens’ personal data to citizens. Companies will not be allowed to divulge information that they have received for a particular purpose without the permission of the person concerned. Consumers will have to give their explicit consent to the use of their data.”
The new regulations will be confirmed by the European parliament this Thursday. All EU states will then have two years to either adapt existing laws or pass new ones that meet the required standards.