Australian online privacy bill to make social media age verification compulsory

A new Australian online privacy bill is all set to make social media age verification compulsory for a number of firms, including tech giants, Reddit, Zoom, and gaming services. The Online Privacy Bill is touted to be an expansion of the wider Privacy Act, and it is hoped that it will be able to enhance the online privacy of users.

The country’s federal government has said that the Bill’s goal is to improve privacy protections without having any unduly negative impact on the digital economy. The current legislation allows the government to make only two types of “binding privacy codes,” namely the Australian Privacy Principle code (APP), and a Credit Reporting code.

Verifying Users’ Ages and Seeking Parental Consent

The new Bill seeks to expand the provisions of the Privacy Act, so as to allow the government to come up with a third code, one that will specifically regulate three major classes of companies: social media platforms, large online platforms, and data brokers.

The proposed code (dubbed the “online privacy” code (OP)), is designed to make it mandatory for social media firms to verify the age of users; obtain parental/guardian consent of children under 16 years of age before they collect, use, or disclose their personal information; and also prioritize taking actions in the best interests of young users while handling data. These requirements will apply only to social media organizations, seeing as how they pose a much higher risk to children than those posed by large online platforms and data brokers.

A Number of Tech Giants in the Wrap

Australian online privacy bill to make social media age verification compulsory
Image Credits: Zoom Blog

Social networks which will fall under the code’s jurisdiction will include Facebook, dating apps like Bumble, online forums like Reddit, content services like OnlyFans, videoconferencing and messaging apps like Zoom and WhatsApp, and quite a few gaming platforms as well.

The next category, that is data brokers, include those services that collect people’s personal data through electronic services other than social media, usually for the purpose of disclosing the same to third parties. The last category, meanwhile, include organizations having more than 2.5 million Australian users. As such, tech biggies like Google, Apple, and Amazon will fall under the code’s scope, along with streaming platforms like Spotify.

Another provision is for stronger penalties for firms breaching users privacy. It is proposed that any breach should bring in fines worth as much as 10 percent of a company’s domestic annual turnover, or AU$10 million.


Source: ZDNet