In an effort to safeguard kids online, France on Thursday enacted a new law mandating social media sites like TikTok to confirm users’ ages and secure parental permission for those under 15 years old.
The government has recently taken a number of actions to limit children’s screen time and safeguard them from cyberbullying and other crimes, including the legislation.
Digital Transition Minister Jean-Noel Barrot assured parliamentarians that the “landmark” measure would be “applied as soon as possible.”
Despite the fact that the age verification bill was approved by the Senate on Thursday, it is still unknown exactly when it will go into effect because no deadline was established and because the European Commission has not yet verified that it complies with EU law.
Sites will then have two years to apply the restrictions to current users after an initial year to comply with the guideline for new members.
Pornography, cyberstalking, unrealistic beauty standards, and the platforms’ attention-seeking addictive qualities—which present a particular risk for young people—were among the issues that lawmakers expressed concern about.
The current laws, which largely addressed the gathering of personal data, had no effect on children’s access to social media.
In France, it is prohibited for anyone under the age of 13 to enter some sites.
According to the French National Commission for Technology and Freedoms (CNIL), however, more than half of kids aged 10 to 14 use social media platforms like Snapchat and Instagram, with some users signing up as early as age eight.
If a user is under the age of 15, the new rule will specifically require sites to get their consent by employing technical solutions that adhere to the standards established by the French Arcom regulator.
Social media companies who break the rules might be fined up to 1% of their global sales.
The rule will also force websites to provide measures to limit the amount of time youngsters spend using the platform, and it would permit parents to request the suspension of accounts that belong to their under-15 children.
The politician who pushed for the act, Laurent Marcangeli, acknowledged on Wednesday that it would not be sufficient to allay worries about children’s internet safety.
He also urged “improvements in online age verification technology and significant investment in digital education for parents, children, and teachers.”
Another bill that has to be written into law protecting children’s image rights from parental abuse on social media was recently introduced by French parliamentarians.
Measures to prevent children from seeing screens too much were also introduced in parliament in March.
Minister Barrot will likely defend a law to “secure and regulate the digital space” (which contains provisions requiring porn sites to verify that their users are of legal age) next week.