After a unanimous green light Wednesday from the National Assembly, the bill must be approved Thursday by the Senate. The date of entry into force of the text is still uncertain and depends in particular on 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, and two years for existing accounts, although the technical details are still subject to consultation.
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.
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.
In theory, social networks are not open in France to children under 13. But the first registration would occur on average around 8 and a half years, and more than half of 10-14 year olds are present, according to the French National Commission for Informatics and Liberties (CNIL).
In case of failure to comply with their new obligations, social networks will be subject to a penalty, with a fine of up to 1% of the company's global turnover.
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.
From pornography to online harassment, unattainable beauty standards or addictive methods to capture attention, parliamentarians have, during the debates, outlined the risks that need to be protected for the youngest.
The text "will not be enough to put an end to the drifts alone," admitted Wednesday its initiator, the deputy of the majority Laurent Marcangeli. According to him, it is necessary to "advance on online age verification techniques and to invest massively in digital education".
© 2023 AFP