Social media companies may soon be forced to seek parental permission before accessing children’s data

Those under 16 may soon be required to obtain parental permission to join social media platforms under a federal government proposal to introduce a new online privacy code to better protect children and teens.

The legislation would prevent social media companies from accessing a child’s data without parental permission, and also require companies to make all reasonable attempts to verify the age of users.

David Coleman, deputy minister to the prime minister for mental health and suicide prevention, said the bill could be introduced early next year after community consultation.

We know we can’t trust social media companies to act in the best interests of children, so we’re going to force them to do it, ”he told ABC’s AM program.

The legislation would require social media companies, by law, to act in the best interests of children when accessing their data.

If these social media companies use children’s data to present them with destructive content, which is clearly not in the best interests of the children, these social media companies would be breaking the law and could face penalties of up to ‘at 10%. of all of their Australian income, ”he said.

“We know from Facebook’s own research that social media can lead to body image issues.”

The ABC reached out to Facebook for comment.

Governments around the world introduce new measures

Reset Australia, a think tank examining how to regulate big tech, has been calling for new laws to regulate social media for some time.

Rys Farthing, the organization’s data policy officer, said similar legislation was introduced in the UK this year and has already had positive results.

“We have seen a whole slew of changes heralded in the digital world in response to this,” said Dr Farthing.

“Things like TikTok, by default [under-16s’] private accounts, and Google announcing that they weren’t even going to follow youthful internet ads like they were. “

She said the legislation had changed the approach of big tech companies.

“Putting a requirement on how they can use data is really starting to change their approach, to change the products they can build, to change what they can serve young people,” she said.

But Dr Farthing said she hoped the legislation would apply beyond the obvious social media companies and indicate how youth data is handled more broadly, including in the gaming and entertainment industry. education.

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