Stuff co.nz 15 December 2015
A new law plans to ban children under 16 living in the European Union (EU) from social media unless they have parental consent – but New Zealand experts say it won’t have the desired effect.
EU Parliament introduced the change to the proposed data protection laws last week.
If the new legislation is passed it will raise the age of consent for websites to use personal data from 13 to 16.
NetSafe chief executive Martin Cocker said the impetus for the law change was data protection but it was unlikely to make personal information any safer.
“It’s based on the premise that children between 13 and 16 are not capable of understanding the contracts that they’re getting into with social media in terms of the treatment of their data.
“I think the truth is very few people are aware of what they’re signing themselves into.”
Cocker said companies like Facebook and Twitter had the most user-friendly privacy policies due to public scrutiny.
“The challenge is it may drive people away from the social media platforms that are following the rules and are therefore the better behaved ones. It may be counter-productive.”
Bob McCoskrie, head of conservative lobby group Family First, said he did not think the proposed law would be enforceable.
Changing the age limit “has merit” but “the horse has bolted” when it comes to kids getting access to social media sites, he said.
“My concern with social media is not that the kids are on it but it’s the type of people that go on masquerading as someone they’re not.”
No matter what the entry point, parents should be regularly monitoring their children on social media and restricting their time online, McCoskrie said.
“I liken social media to just leaving the bedroom window open and allowing anyone to just come into the bedroom.”