Facebook and a range of other sites could be asked to lock out children who are under 16 and don’t have permission from parents to be on the sites. An amendment to new European data protection rules looks to raise the age of digital consent from 13 to 16. It would mean that sites like Facebook, WhatsApp and Snapchat could only be used by those over 16, or people under that age who have received parental nod. The the change has drawn outrage among some people, and even given rise to a petition. The rules actually seem to just extend those that already exist up to a slightly higher age bracket.
Campaigners have argued the new rule would actually make children more vulnerable. This would also limit the amount of information and online opportunities that teenagers have. Sites that store a users’ data, such as social media services, already limit the way that children use them. Many sites that ban users who are under 18 police that rule by requiring that visitors sign up with a credit card. But for sites that don’t charge, or who have age limits such as 16, policing such rules can be much more difficult. It’s likely that technology companies will lobby against the rules given the expense and difficulties entailed with attempting to enforce them