The Assembly voted on Thursday the obligation for social networks like TikTok or Snapchat to verify the age of their users and the consent of parents for the registration of children under 15, with sanctions at the key in case of shortcomings.
The bill, led by Horizons MP Laurent Marcangeli, was adopted almost unanimously (82 votes to 2) at first reading, in an atmosphere of harmony that has become rare at the Palais-Bourbon. It must now be considered in the Senate.
Rejecting any “moralizing discourse”, Mr. Marcangeli defended “essential safeguards” to be put in the face of “the growing precocity of digital puberty and the power of the tools made available to our young people”.
Pornography, cyberbullying, unattainable standards of beauty or even addictive processes to capture attention: during the debates, the deputies listed the various risks against which the youngest had to be protected.
The “numerical majority” at 15 to which the text refers is not new: it was introduced in France in 2018 in application of European legislation, which left the possibility of fixing it between 13 and 16 years old.
But this threshold concerns more broadly the age under which parental consent is required for the personal data of a minor to be processed. Not really applied, it had no impact in terms of children’s access to social networks.
To remedy this, the heart of the text voted on Thursday establishes the obligation for social networks “to put in place a technical solution for verifying the age of end users and the consent of holders of parental authority” for those under 15 years, “solution” which must be certified by the authorities. In the event of a breach, a fine may be imposed on the company, up to 1% of its worldwide turnover.
The text, which was debated as part of a day reserved for the Horizons group (ally of the macronists), also gives parents the possibility of requesting the suspension of the account of a child under the age of 15.
A constraint was added by amendment during the debate, specifying that parents could not give their consent for the registration of children under 13, except for “labelled platforms”.
On social networks, the first registration “occurs on average around 8 and a half years old, and more than half of 10-14 year olds are present there”, according to data from the CNIL cited by the deputies. “The scientific evidence of causal links between the unbridled use of social networks and the mental health of children and adolescents is accumulating”, underlined the Minister Delegate for the Digital Transition Jean-Noël Barrot, who supported the voted text.
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