WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram: they all could be banned for people under 16 according to new European data protection rules

facebook whatsapp instagramTry to think what will happen if our teens will be allowed to use social media like WhatsApp or Snapchat only if they have permission from legal guardians such as parents. This scenario seems to be quite close, if the new amendment to European data protection rules becomes law. So this could be far more than an hypothesis.

What’s happening? According to the current EU Law, people under 13 already need that kind of permission, and now Europe intends to further raise the age of digital consent to 16. Obviously this proposal is quite controversial and has even generated a petition and a lot of debate. In fact many campaigners are convinced that you can not limit the amount of information that our kids can find online, because they could miss important knowledge. We know that today many of the major sites already require that their users are at least 13, and others even 18 (for this purpose they require that you sign up with a credit card) but honestly it’s really difficult to check the real age of users, and the rule can be easily eluded.

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But what is the real reason for the change in this direction? It seems that the need of this new draft law lies in a dispute between Europe and USA, and specifically the US Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, according to which the digital age of consent is 13. On the other hand, that’s what the new draft law says on the matter: “processing of personal data of a child below the age of 16 years shall only be lawful if and to the extent that such consent is given or authorised by the holder of parental responsibility over the child”.

This new draft law will be voted this week after negotiation between member states. It goes without saying that, if the law passes, there will be repercussions in the field of social network but not only. It’s especially teens who use social media and they represent a great market for Mark Zuckerberg & co., so it’s easy to imagine that this important quarrel between Europe and USA will have more developments.

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