New EU data protection rules could ban teenagers from social media services like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat

Clara Guibourg
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"Young people wouldn't even be able to sign this very petition," critics argue (Source: Getty)

EU lawmakers are about to introduce new data protection laws that would require parents to approve their children’s use of social media and chat apps.

With hours to go before the final discussions of the new law begin tomorrow, a last-minute change has taken centre-stage, with critics arguing teenagers are being “banned from the internet”.

Under the proposed rules, teenagers aged 15 and under would be barred from their favourite social media services like Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp and Snapchat, unless they get express permission from their parents.

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The data protection law has been working its way through Brussels for the better part of three years, with the objective of creating unison data protection laws for all member states. Unlike EU directives, the law would become legally binding across the union after two years.

Currently, 13 is the lower age limit for most social media sites and other services, but the last-minute amendment states that processing 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”.

Tech giants have scrambled together “frantic” lobbying efforts in a eleventh-hour bid to stop the amendment being passed, the Financial Times has reported.

A petition against the proposal has also been launched by online safety groups who criticise the new rules that effectively “ban teenagers from using the internet”:

With the new law that the European Union wants to pass this week, young people wouldn't even be able to sign this very petition.

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