French Facebook wannabes under 16 may require parental ‘oui’

French Facebook wannabes under 16 may require parental ‘oui’
The Council of Ministers in France have approved a draft bill proposing that all wannabe social media users under 16 years old should get permission from their parents or guardians to register an account online.

The new legislation, presented at a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, is part of measures to better protect data privacy in the EU, French media reported. With social media being among the services that collect and process personal data, they fall under the French lawmakers' efforts to prevent companies from uncontrolled use of personal information of children and teenagers.

"Joining Facebook will involve parental authorization for minors aged under 16," Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet announced. If approved by France’s parliamentary deputies, the proposed parental consent rule might become law within six months.

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It concerns not only social media platforms, but all services collecting personal information such as the user's name, date of birth or email address. Companies who fail to meet the new rules may be fined 20 million euros ($23.6 million) or 4 percent of their consolidated global turnover, according to French media.

However, it is not yet clear how the required parental permission to set up an account will actually work. The minister said that to confirm the approval from parents or rightful guardians would involve ticking a box, which would amount to a declaration governed by law.

At the moment, to sign up for Facebook one needs to be at least 13 years old and have a valid email address. But there is no mechanism for verifying the user’s age, and it remains unclear how one could also check whether the "parental approval" box is actually being ticked by a parent or legal guardian.