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Access to Social Media for Children Under 15 in France to Require Parental Consent

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Photo: Access to Social Media for Children Under 15 in France to Require Parental Consent. Source: 101theeagle.com
Photo: Access to Social Media for Children Under 15 in France to Require Parental Consent. Source: 101theeagle.com

The French Parliament has recently passed a requirement for social media platforms such as TikTok, Snapchat, or Instagram to verify the age of their users and obtain parental consent if the users are under the age of 15.

On Thursday, the Senate voted on the obligation for social media platforms to verify the age of their users and obtain parental consent. Following a final unanimous vote in the National Assembly on Wednesday, the senators also unanimously approved the bill on Thursday. The effective date is yet to be determined as it must be fixed by decree, which depends, among other things, on the conclusion to be issued by the European Commission regarding its compliance with EU legislation.

Afterward, social media platforms will have one year to fulfill their obligations for new registrations and two years for existing accounts, even if the technical conditions are still subject to consultation.

In case of non-compliance with their new obligations, social media platforms will be liable to fines of up to 1% of their global turnover. The text also allows the parent or legal guardian to request the suspension of their child's account until the age of 15. Additionally, platforms must activate usage time monitoring tools for minors.

The age limit of 15 is not new; it was introduced in France in 2018 in accordance with European legislation. However, this threshold applies to a broader age range where parental consent is required for the processing of personal data of a minor. Moreover, the norm has practically not been applied and has had no impact on children's access to social media.

Theoretically, social media platforms in France and other European countries are not open to children under 13 years old. However, according to the French National Commission on Informatics and Liberty (CNIL), the average first registration actually occurs at around 8.5 years old. Additionally, more than half of children aged 10 to 14 are present on social media.

According to a global study by the UK Safer Internet Centre, during the quarantine period, children spent 80% more time online.

Websites and each social media platform collect certain personal data about each user with their consent. Therefore, children's acquaintance with social media was made possible only after the recommended age of 13 and under parental supervision or together with them.

Some of the main reasons why children under 13 cannot register on social media are peer bullying, child pornography, and trolling.

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