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BizReport : Social Marketing : December 16, 2015

EU data protection law amendment proposes barring under-16s from social media

Marketers looking to target teenagers in Europe might need to look for an alternative to social media if a new European Parliament rule goes through next week.

by Helen Leggatt

If an amendment (Article 8) to current data protection laws goes through, the minimum age to use social media in Europe could rise barring anyone under the age of 16. That would mean no teens in Europe could access the likes of Facebook, SnapChat, Instagram or WhatsApp - or any social media messaging service or platform that handles their data.

The only way someone under the age of 16 could access such social media would be via explicit consent from a parent or guardian.

The amendment states that "processing 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 authorized by the holder of parental responsibility over the child". Previously, this limit applied only to those 13 and under.

Currently, platforms like Instagram do not require official verification and leaves it open for teens to log on by lying about their age. This could mean that Increasing the age of consent to 16 may have little impact if ways are found around the new restrictions.

Companies face fines of up to 4% of turnover if they are found to have flouted the new rules.

While companies are lobbying to have the new amendment thrown out, the BBC spoke one to proponent of the new law. Dr Rachel O'Connell from Trust Elevate, a company that is developing age and identification verification tools. Dr O'Connell suggests that technologies could be used by social platforms to "offer access without processing under-16's personal data, ie gathering data, creating psychographic profiles of a young person and selling it to third parties, until they got permission from a parent and young person".

Image via Shutterstock

Tags: age verification, data protection, law, social media

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