Digital Age Of Consent Should Be Set At 16, says Labour Party

Labour Party Justice Spokesperson Seán Sherlock has reiterated that his party supports and will seek to set the digital age of consent at 16,

Labour will bring forward amendments to achieve that at the Dáil Committee stage of the General Data Protection Regulation Bill.

Deputy Sherlock said that the recent controversies over the use of personal data and how it has been commericialised by social media companies, but also abused by companies such as Cambridge Analytica shows the need to protect children on the internet.

“Many parents are rightly concerned at the so-called digital age of consent. The default in the GDPR regulations is 16, but the Government appears to have accepted the lobbying of tech giants on this, and reduced it to the lowest possible limit of 13," he says.

The digital age of consent is the age at which a child has the capacity to consent to the processing of personal data by the provider of an "information society service". The regulation deals with personal data, data that identify or are about an individual person and include names, addresses, dates of birth and anything that a person shares on social media such his or her preferences, status updates and, in many cases, private conversations over messaging apps, among other elements.

"In simple terms, this will allow children between the age of 13 and 16 to have their data used to profile them for commercial purposes, targeting of ads and services," he adds.

“The question we must ask is does a child at age 13 have capacity to contract? We have and will continue take expert advice on this and will submit amendments at Committee stage that I hope other parties will support.

"If we were to set the digital age of consent for Ireland at 16 it would be in line with Germany, the Netherlands, France, and others, who have best-in-class approaches to protecting children online."

He concludes: "This is not about when children can go online or use devices, rather, it only relates to situations where the processing of the personal data of a child is performed. The Bill at present sets the Irish digital age of consent at the lowest possible age - 13 years and it is my belief that it should be set at 16."

 

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