France Senate passes legislation requiring age verification for minors on social media News
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France Senate passes legislation requiring age verification for minors on social media

The French Senate approved new legislation on Thursday requiring social media platforms such as TikTok and Instagram to implement mandatory age verification systems and obtain explicit parental consent for users aged 15 and below. The move comes amid a growing international crackdown on the platforms lack of privacy protections for users. 

The new legislation is the most recent effort by the French government to protect minors from the unintended consequences of using the Internet. It aims to reduce children’s screen time, protect them from harmful online content such as pornography, and safeguard them from cyberbullying and other cyberspace crimes. There is also a focus on the mental health issues arising from excessive usage of social media, such as its addictive nature and unattainable beauty standards, which have been an increasingly prevalent problem among teenage girls. Under the new legislation, social media sites are required to install functions that limit children’s usage time. It will also give parents the right to suspend accounts belonging to their children under 15.

Social media companies will have to comply with the new regulation by implementing technical solutions that conform with the regulator’s guidelines. Platforms that breach the law can potentially face a hefty fine of up to 1 percent of their global revenues.

The exact date for the official implementation of the new law has not yet been announced, as it is still pending approval from the European Commission. Once the law comes into effect, social media platforms will have a year to conform with the policy for new users and another two years to apply it to existing users.

France forbids social media platforms to register users who are minors under the age of 13. However, according to the French National Commission for Technology and Freedoms, 63 percent of children under the age of 13 have at least one social media account, and over half of the children aged between 10 and 14 use social media sites such as Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat.

Previously, France also pushed for new laws to protect children from having their image rights exploited.

The French government’s regulation is also part of broader efforts by Western governments against the Chinese-owned social media company TikTok. In a high-profile hearing in March, TikTok CEO Shou Chew testified before the US Congress on data privacy issues. In April, the company was fined £12.7M by UK regulators for misuse of children’s data. The app has already been banned from government devices in several countries, and the US state of Montana became the first state to ban the app, in its entirety, in May.