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EU Looking to Raise Age of ‘Digital Consent’ to 16

December 17, 2015 - Written By Tom Dawson

The European Union has undoubtedly changed a whole continent and group of nations like no other organization over the last decades. Like other large bodies of power, it’s beginning to look as if the European Union is looking to overextend their reach, especially where the Internet is concerned. They’ve already set their sites heavily on Google in an Antitrust case which looks likely to end up in a huge fine for the American search giant. Now, it would appear the European Union is looking to make it more difficult for young adults to get online, or at least without the consent of a parent or legal guardian that is.

This comes along with the news that the EU is looking to reform their data protection for citizens, and the amendment was made last-minute to the 1995 data-protection directive. The new proposal suggests that younger users under the age of 16 that wish to use Facebook, Twitter, Google or similar services will need permission from a legal guardian or parent. This is in contrast to a comparable US policy that lists 13 as the minimum age for users online. Should this become law in the EU, it would be illegal for say, Google or Facebook, to allow a teen under the age of 16 to create an account and use their services without consent or permission from an adult.

Whether or not this sort of thing is a smart move, or an overreach on the EU’s part is a matter of opinion. On the one hand, causing young adults to take online services more seriously could reduce awkward and perhaps dangerous situations. On the other hand, the question of whether it’s the EU’s place to make these decisions needs to be asked. There’s a chance that this won’t become law in the end, but it does appear as though the EU is pretty serious about this, and other changes outlined earlier this week. With this as well as their stance on ‘Right to be Forgotten’ the EU is clearly unhappy with how things are where the Internet is concerned, and perhaps they’re finally wanting to assert more control on the American firms that are controlling everything half a world away.