Teenagers under the age of 16 could be banned from Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and email if they do not have parental permission to use the social media.
The European Union is on the verge of pushing through regulations that would raise the age of consent for websites to use personal data from 13 to 16. Officials quietly amended proposed data protection laws last week to increase the age and put the EU out of step with other parts of the world. Millions of teenagers would be forced to seek permission from parents whenever signing up to a social media account, downloading an app, or even using search engines.
The law, due to be negotiated between member states on Tuesday, would cause a major headache for social media companies.
Almost all major social media services, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and Google, currently have a minimum age of 13, in compliance with European and American laws.
The new rules would need to be ratified by the European parliament.
Countries would then have two years to implement the law. Failing to comply would bring fines of up to 4 percent of a company’s turnover — tens of millions of pounds for the biggest firms.
The Diana Award Youth Board, which aims to protect children from bullying, warned: “This higher-age threshold may incentivise children between the ages of 13 and 15 to lie about their age.”