Remember when you were just becoming a teen in the age of the internet? 13 was the golden age — once you got there, you could stop lying about your age to sign up for accounts and do fun things online. Lying about your age, legally known as ‘getting parental consent’ has been the norm for under-13s worldwide, a kind of uniform unwritten standard. But, with a recent amendment to a set of data protection laws that have been in the works since 2012, that unwritten standard could soon change in the European Union.
A recent amendment to the EU-wide set of laws would require children 16 years and younger to get parental consent before signing up for accounts or downloading apps, effectively preventing them from joining social media networks on their own. The entire set of data protection rules will be discussed tomorrow before going to multiple European parliament committees for a vote and, ultimately, seeking ratification in the European parliament next year.
So, there’s a long way to go before this becomes reality for EU teens, if it ever does. The concern is over data protection of minors, although recent terror attacks and concern about radicalization of youth over social media networks doubtless has played a role in the last minute addition of this new rule.
Kidding above aside, it’s extremely likely that large numbers of under-16s would continue to simply lie about their age online to circumvent the rules, something that has always been notoriously easy to do. While ability to enforce shouldn’t necessarily be a guiding principle behind the creation of laws, one hopes that European lawmakers are aware of this pitfall, considering that it could make the internet even less safe for young people.
However, enforcement will be squarely targeted at companies. Any website or internet company found to be not in compliance with the EU’s new regulations within their jurisdiction could reportedly be fined as much as four percent of their annual net profit.