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Proposed ban on using the internet for under 16’s just wont work

Internet Safety

Sometimes I wonder who’s giving policy makers and politicians in the digital arena their Internet Safety advice.

To think that introducing a new rule under the European General Data Protection Regulation, which would mean young people aged 16 and under would need to ask permission from their parents, before they use any services related to the internet is possibly one of the most ludicrous proposed bills yet.

The last minute amendment to Europe’s Data Protection Regulation says this: ‘The processing of personal data of a child below the age of 16 years shall only be lawful if and to the extent that such consent is given or authorised by the holder of parental responsibility over the child’.

Many of the articles doing the rounds on this news seem to think that it might only impact social networking platforms. But should this move forward it would have far more far-reaching impact on young people who would have to have parental permission before using search engines, downloading an app, writing blog posts, as well as sending messages to friends on social media sites.

So let’s take at look at it from both sides of the debate..

First of all, it would be ‘virtually’ impossible to enforce. A study carried out by KnowTheNet found that 59 per cent of children are social networking by 10 years old – if it can’t be enforced at 13 how will it be enforced for 16 and under? There’s also much evidence to show that children under 13 already use the internet and access social media platforms – creating accounts by signing up with a date of birth which brings them in line with Coppa’s (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act) requirements.

Few deny that technology and the Internet have become integral to how children learn today – researching projects for school, to look up information on things which are happening in their lives and for many to source help, advice and support. So a move like this could hugely impact educational and life opportunities for young people and set them at a distinct disadvantage to young people outside of EU jurisdiction.

In my line of work I have heightened awareness of the concerns with online platforms processing personal data from 16 and unders. But blocking access outright is just not the answer nor will it improve Internet Safety.

Like it or not, social media and the internet is integral to how young people communicate today and a place where they have a voice.

Focusing on limiting the processing of personal data from 16’s and under and developing effective age verification solutions would be time and money better spent.

In my opinion implementing changes to address the processing of the data of under 16s and tightening legislation on what happens to children’s data as opposed to draconian measures of blocking access and removing rights to use the internet freely may also actually offer less protection driving young people’s online and smart phone usage underground.

The way forward in protecting children and young people online is empowerment through education within our schools and homes on safe, responsible and positive use. The amendment is bonkers & impossible to enforce. Will be keen to see how this plays out.

Hope you have found this overview useful.  Want to help keep your Teen safer Online & yourself up to date?  Then pick up a copy of my book. Click on the button below to order your copy of my book.


Posted By Wayne Denner

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Wayne Denner shares his knowledge & expertise on leading tech industry blog.

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