The bill, carried by the boss of the Horizons deputies Laurent Marcangeli, was adopted almost unanimously (82 votes against 2) at first reading, in an atmosphere of harmony that has become rare at the Palais Bourbon.
It must now be considered in the Senate.
Rejecting any "moralizing discourse", Mr. Marcangeli defended "essential safeguards" to be put in the face of "the growing precocity of digital puberty and the power of the tools made available to our young people".
Pornography, cyberbullying, unattainable standards of beauty or even addictive processes to capture attention: during the debates, the deputies agreed on the list of risks against which the youngest had to be protected.
The "numerical majority" at 15 to which the text refers is not new: it was introduced in France in 2018 in application of European legislation, which left the possibility of fixing it between 13 and 16 years old.
But this threshold concerns more broadly the age under which parental consent is required for the personal data of a minor to be processed.
Not really applied, it had no impact in terms of children's access to social networks.
"Everyone has their own responsibilities"
To remedy this, the text voted on Thursday aims to establish the obligation for social networks "to put in place a technical solution for verifying the age of end users and the consent of holders of parental authority" for those under 15 years old, which must be certified by the authorities.
In the event of a breach, a sanction is provided for, with a fine of up to 1% of the company's worldwide turnover.
The Assembly voted for the obligation for social networks such as TikTok or Snapchat to verify parental consent for the registration of children under 15 © DENIS CHARLET / AFP/Archives
The text, debated as part of a day reserved for the Horizons group (ally of the macronists), also gives parents the possibility of requesting the suspension of the account of a child under the age of 15.
An amendment also added a constraint by providing that parents could not give their consent for children under 13, except for "labeled platforms".
"It is for everyone - parents, companies, young people - to take their responsibilities" in the face of the amplification of children's digital practices, argued Laurent Marcangeli.
On social networks, the first registration occurs "on average around 8 and a half years old, and more than half of 10-14 year olds are present there", according to data from the National Commission for Computing and Liberties (CNIL) , cited by MEPs.
France at the forefront
After this text, the deputies will have the opportunity to delve again on Monday into these questions which are of concern to more and more parents.
They will examine in the hemicycle a text by Macronist MP Caroline Janvier, which aims to prevent the risks for the youngest children of excessive exposure to screens.
His bill provides in particular to insert a chapter in the Public Health Code dedicated to this theme, and to include recommendations in pregnancy notebooks.
A text by another Renaissance MP, Bruno Studer, will also be on the menu on Monday.
It aims to "guarantee respect for children's image rights", including in the face of certain parents who broadcast images of their children on the internet without limit.
The government, which supports all these initiatives, wants to be active on these subjects: in February it launched a campaign "to raise awareness among parents and to popularize the site jeprotegemonenfant.gouv.fr", recalled the Secretary of State for Protection of Childhood, Charlotte Caubel.
And “France will soon be the first country in the world to generalize parental control by default on all devices sold on its territory”, underlined the Minister Delegate for the Digital Transition Jean-Noël Barrot.
The government has also planned to test in March an age verification solution blocking minors' access to pornographic sites.
© 2023 AFP