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Australia plans to force parental consent for minors on social media


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SYDNEY, Oct.25 (Reuters) – Australia on Monday unveiled plans to get social media companies to seek parental consent for users under the age of 16, with multi-million dollar fines for non-compliance.

Bills to improve online privacy would require companies like Facebook, the anonymous forum Reddit, the smartphone dating app Bumble, and Facebook’s own news channel Whatsapp to take all reasonable steps to determine the ages of users and the interests of users Prioritize children in data collection.

If the Online Privacy Act were passed, Australia would be among the toughest countries on social media age controls, building on the country’s efforts to contain the power of big tech. The government has already introduced mandatory royalty payments for media companies and plans to tighten laws against online misinformation and defamation.

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“We ensure that data and privacy (of the Australians) are protected and handled carefully,” said Attorney General Michaelia Cash in a statement. “Our bill means that if these companies fail to meet this standard, they will be severely punished.”

Facebook Inc (FB.O) faced the wrath of U.S. lawmakers this month after a former employee of the company leaked documents highlighting concerns the company was harming children’s mental health in order to generate a profit. Continue reading

Deputy Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention David Coleman said: “Facebook’s own internal research shows the impact social media platforms can have on body image and mental health in young people”.

Facebook’s director of public order in Australia and New Zealand, Mia Garlick, said the company is reviewing the proposed law and understands “the importance of ensuring that Australian privacy laws evolve at a pace comparable to the pace of innovation and new technology that are emerging.” we experience today “. “.

The new law would increase penalties for anyone violating the Code, with fines equal to either 10% of the company’s annual domestic sales, three times the financial benefit of the violation, or A $ 10 million ($ 7.5 million). The current maximum fine is A $ 2.1 million.

In a previously commissioned report published on Monday, the information commissioner’s data protection officer found that while most social media providers were 13 or older, the limit was enforced through “self-affirmation” rather than independent review became.

A Reddit representative was not immediately available for comment.

($ 1 = 1.3398 Australian dollars)

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Reporting by Byron Kaye; Editing by Michael Perry and Jane Wardell

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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