Europe 1 with AFP // Photo credit: Ali Balikci / ANADOLU AGENCY / Anadolu Agency via AFP 16:40 pm, June 29, 2023Parliament on Thursday adopted the obligation for platforms such as TikTok, Snapchat or Instagram to verify the age of their users and the consent of parents when they are under 15 years old. Its date of entry into force will be set by decree, following an opinion to be issued by the European Commission on its compliance with EU law.
No more social networks without parental consent: Parliament on Thursday adopted the obligation for platforms such as TikTok, Snapchat or Instagram to verify the age of their users and the consent of parents when they are under 15 years old. After the final green light from the National Assembly the day before, the bill obtained Thursday that of the Senate, also unanimous. It is worth final adoption of the text carried by Laurent Marcangeli, boss of the deputies Horizons (presidential camp), examined in a consensual climate in both chambers.
An effective date set by Order in Council
Its date of entry into force will be set by decree, following an opinion to be issued by the European Commission on its compliance with EU law. Social networks will then have one year to comply with their obligations for new registrations. "Rest assured that we will ensure that this text can be applied as soon as possible," promised Jean-Noël Barrot, the minister in charge of the Digital Transition, welcoming a measure "that will make history".
From pornography to cyberbullying, unattainable beauty standards or addictive methods to capture attention: parliamentarians have outlined the risks that must be protected for young people. The numerical majority of 15 years to which the bill refers was introduced in France in 2018 under European legislation, which left the possibility of setting it between 13 and 16 years. But this threshold relates more broadly to the age under which parental consent is required for a minor's personal data to be processed. Above all, it is not really applied and has not had an impact on children's access to social networks.
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In theory, social networks are not open to children under 13. But the first registration would occur on average around eight and a half years, and more than half of 10-14 year olds are present, according to data from the National Commission for Informatics and Liberties (CNIL). Faced with this situation, the adopted text establishes an obligation for social networks to verify the age of users and to obtain "the authorization of one of the holders of parental authority" for children under 15 years of age.
They will have to use "technical solutions in accordance with a reference system" developed by the Regulatory Authority for Audiovisual and Digital Communication (Arcom). The absence to date of a system that met with unanimity was stressed several times during the debates, but the parliamentarians considered that this should not prevent them from sending a strong signal. Parental consent will also have to be obtained for accounts already held by people under 15 years of age, an obligation that will come into force two years after that of the law.
In case of breach, social networks will be subject to a penalty, with a fine of up to 1% of the company's global turnover.
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The account of a less than 15 years old may be suspended
The text also allows a holder of parental authority to request the suspension of the account of a child under 15 years of age. And it requires networks to activate a time-of-use control device for miners. The text "will not be enough to put an end to the abuses alone", had admitted Wednesday its initiator Laurent Marcangeli, calling for "progress on age verification techniques and massive investment in digital education for parents, children and teachers".
It is not a question of "depriving young people of access to a social network, but of providing an appropriate response to abuses born of early and unsupervised use," said Thursday Alexandra Borchio Fontimp (LR), rapporteur of the text in the Senate. These new provisions are part of a series of initiatives by the presidential camp. A text to protect children's right to image on social networks was recently adopted at first reading by both chambers, which have yet to reach a common version. The Assembly also adopted at first reading in March measures against the overexposure of children to screens.
On the executive side, the government will defend from July 4 in the Senate a bill to "secure and regulate the digital space". In particular, measures to make effective the obligation for pornographic sites to verify that their users are of age. Age verification "is the mother of battles," Barrot insisted Thursday.