You may be wondering what, if any, impact Europe’s sweeping new data law, GDPR (for General Data Privacy Regulation), has on parenting tech users in your life. After all, it went into effect today, and you may’ve seen headlines like the New York Times’s about how it makes Europe the “world’s leading tech watchdog” or the piece in Ad Age pointing out the irony that a data privacy law triggered a tsunami of spam in our email in-boxes (Quartz actually sent an email with the subject: “This is not that kind of email”).
Probably the biggest adjustment where kids are concerned is that 13 is no longer the worldwide default “minimum age” for kids in social media; just everywhere but Europe. And there, it’s all over the map. The GDPR raised the default minimum age to 16 for EU member nations, giving individual countries the option to lower it. The age level refers to when apps and services no longer need to obtain parental consent in order to allow a young person to use their service; which amazingly means, for example, that in some countries, such as France, “the age of consent to sex is the same as or lower than the age of consent for data purposes,” as UK online child protection expert John Carr put it in his blog a couple of months ago. [I’d welcome your thoughts, in Comments below, on whether a 15-year-old should have their parent’s consent for social media use (researchers, unlike the GDPR drafters, did survey parents – find out what they heard here).]
More protection, more confusion
The problem is, no one – from researchers to companies – is completely sure how the companies will obtain and verify a parent’s consent. And, practically speaking, how much time will parents really have to go through whatever hoops will be part of providing their consent to multiple companies? GDPR is adding fresh fuel to digital-age parent shaming. Read more