Australia wants Facebook to seek parental consent for kids

Australia plans to crack down on online advertisers targeting children by making social media platforms seek parental consent for users younger than 16 years old to join or face fines of $7.5 million under a draft law

The landmark legislation would protect Australians online and ensure that Australia’s privacy laws are appropriate in the digital age, a government statement said.

Social media platforms would be required to take all reasonable steps to verify their users’ ages under a binding code for social media services, data brokers and other large online platforms operating in Australia,

The platforms would also have to give primary consideration to the best interests of children when handling their personal information, the draft legislation states.

The code would also require platforms to obtain parental consent for users under the age of 16.

Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention David Coleman said the new code would lead the world in protecting children from social media companies.

Facebook regional director of public policy Mia Garlick said her platform had been calling for Australia’s privacy laws to evolve with new technology.

“We have supported the development of international codes around young people’s data, like the U.K. Age Appropriate Design Code,” Garlick said in a statement, referring to British legislation introduced this year that requires platforms to verify users’ ages if content risks the moral, physical or mental well-being of children.

“We’re reviewing the draft bill and discussion paper released today, and look forward to working with the Australian government on this further,” she added.

Australia has been a prominent voice in calling for international regulation of the internet.

It passed laws this year that oblige Google and Facebook to pay for journalism. Australia also defied the tech companies by creating a law that could imprison social media executives if their platforms stream violent images.