Australia plans tough law for social media platform to protect children
Under new law, social media platforms will seek parental consent for users younger than 16 years
Australia on Monday announced bringing a new digital law that would compel the social media platforms to seek parental consent for users younger than 16 years to join.
In a statement, Attorney-General Senator Michaelia Cash and Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention David Coleman said the landmark privacy legislation aims to protect Australians online and ensure that Australia’s privacy laws remain fit in the digital age.
Under the Privacy Legislation Amendment (Enhancing Online Privacy and Other Measures) Bill 2021, social media services, data brokers, and other large online platforms operating in Australia would be bound to follow the online privacy code.
“Online platforms subject to the code will need to comply with strict new privacy requirements, including stronger protections for children on social media,” said the statement.
Social media platforms will also require obtaining parental consent for users under the age of 16 to join the platforms.
“We know that Australians are wary about what personal information they give over to large tech companies. We are ensuring their data and privacy will be protected and handled with care. Our draft legislation means that these companies will be punished heavily if they don’t meet that standard,” said Attorney-General Michaelia Cash.
The Online Privacy Bill will also introduce tougher penalties and enforcement powers to enable Australia’s privacy regulator, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, to resolve matters more effectively and efficiently.
“In Australia, even before the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a consistent increase in signs of distress and mental ill-health among young people. While the reasons for this are varied and complex, we know that social media is part of the problem,” David Coleman said.
It will provide families with powerful protections, and require fundamental changes to the way social media platforms operate in Australia, he added.
"Social media companies can’t be trusted to act in the best interests of children, so we’re going to force them to. New legislation released by the Government today will lead the world in protecting the privacy of children online," Coleman later tweeted.
*Writing by Islamuddin Sajid
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