Government to strengthen UK data protection law

Aug 14th '17

New measures will give people greater control over their personal data, while the Government’s announcement about the age of consent has implications for teens and their social media use.


Last week the Government announced that it is committed to updating and strengthening data protection laws through a new Data Protection Bill.


New measures include:


  • Public to have greater control over personal data – including right to be forgotten
  • New right to require social media platforms to delete information on children and adults when asked
  • Consent will be explicit, so you have to ‘opt in’ – ending the reliance on the use of default opt-out or preselected tick boxes


The Statement of Intent sets out the planned reforms, which will include implementing the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in full.


Implications for teenagers and their social media use

As Sonia Livingstone explained in her LSE blog, one of the potential implications of new requirements in the GDPR was that children under 16 could be prevented from using social media and other online platforms unless the platform obtained parental consent.


This requirement for parental consent for under-16s marked a change from the commonly applied minimum age of 13, which is a result of US-based companies complying with requirements set out in the Children’s Online Protection Act (COPPA). Indeed, this the reason why many social media services have a minimum age of 13 (see Safer Internet guide to popular social media services to find out more).


However, a minimum age of 16 wasn’t set in stone and the GDPR did set out the opportunity for each Member State to legislate to have a lower age of consent.


The Government’s announcement this week sets out the UK’s position on this, making it clear that they will legislate to ensure that 13 is the minimum age.  Their Statement of Intent explains how the legislation “will require parents or guardians to give consent to information services where a child is under the age of 13.”


This provides much-needed clarification ahead of the GDPR coming into force in May 2018.


Find out more about the Government’s proposals in their Statement of Intent.


Source: UK Safer Internet Centre