Clamping down on online trolling

It’s been reported that teenagers under the age of 16 in Europe will not be able to use websites such as Facebook, SnapChat and Instagram without parental permission.

Officials within the European Union amended proposed data protection laws last week to increase the age of consent for websites to use personal data from 13 to 16.

The laws are due to be voted on tomorrow by the European parliament’s civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee.

If the legislation goes through, countries would have two years to implement the law. Not complying could cost up to 4% in fines for the biggest internet companies.

What does the proposed change in law mean?

Essentially, the law would mean that millions of teenagers under the age of 16 would have to seek permission from their parents when creating a social media account, downloading an app such as WhatsApp, or even just using search engines.

Currently, most major sites require that their users are aged over 13, but this isn’t really policed. By enforcing this new law, it would mean that websites would be in charge of policing their users’ age – something which will be very costly to implement.

Backlash

The proposed law has already created plenty of outrage. Campaigners have argued that increasing the age of consent would actually make children more vulnerable – as it would severely limit the online opportunities and amount of information available to them.

It’s also been argued that because so many 13 – 15 year olds currently use these sites and apps, enforcing the new law would only incentivise those under 16 to lie about their age.

Protecting your teenager’s information online

The proposed laws have been in the works for four years and are in-line with a major overhaul of data protection in the EU.

It is important to know what information is and isn’t being saved about you online, and it’s especially important to educate young people on staying secure online.

Recently, we released a free downloadable guide to Managing Your Teenager’s Personal Information Online, which details how to educate children to use the internet responsibly and safely.

Whatever the decision made by the EU parliament tomorrow, young people need guidance on protecting their personal information online, to understand what data about them could be saved or passed onto a third-party.