(Paris) The French Parliament is preparing to vote on Thursday on the obligation for social media platforms like TikTok, Snapchat or Instagram to verify the age of their users and obtain parental consent when they are under 15 .
After a unanimous green light Wednesday from the National Assembly, the bill must be approved Thursday by the Senate. The date of entry into force of the text is still uncertain and depends in particular on an opinion that the European Commission will have to issue on its compliance with EU law.
Social networks will then have one year to comply with their obligations for new registrations, and two years for existing accounts, even if the technical modalities are still the subject of consultation.
The “numerical majority” at 15 to which the text refers is not new: it was introduced in France in 2018 under European legislation.
But this threshold concerns more broadly the age under which parental consent is required for the personal data of a minor to be processed. Above all, it is not really applied and has had no impact on children’s access to social networks.
In theory, social networks are not open in France to people under 13 years old. But the first registration would occur there on average around 8 and a half years old, and more than half of 10-14 year olds are present there, according to the French National Commission for Computing and Liberties (CNIL).
In the event of breach of their new obligations, social networks will be exposed to a sanction, with a fine of up to 1% of the company’s global turnover.
The text also allows a holder of parental authority to request the suspension of the account of a child under the age of 15. And it requires networks to activate a time-of-use control device for minors.
From pornography to online harassment, via unattainable standards of beauty or addictive processes to capture attention, the parliamentarians, during the debates, outlined the risks from which the youngest had to be protected.
The text “will not be enough to put an end to the excesses on its own”, admitted its initiator, the majority deputy Laurent Marcangeli, on Wednesday. According to him, we must “move forward on online age verification techniques and invest massively in digital education”.