Digital youth protection: Spain leading the way?

Spain's government has proposed a legislative package aimed at protecting children from online threats. The measures include raising the age for opening social media accounts from 14 to 16, banning access to video games with random rewards (loot boxes) for under-18s, and internet addiction tests. Device manufacturers would be required to incorporate parental control tools and age verification as standard.

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El País (ES) /

High time these gaps were closed

For El País such measures are good and important:

“The bill is warranted in that it protects rather than prohibits. But above all, it closes a gap where legislation lags behind technology and the interests of some of the world's most powerful companies. ... So far, no country has managed to develop a truly effective system. This shows the urgency. ... Measures such as raising the minimum age for registration on social networks from 14 to 16 and adapting criminal law to enable injunctions for the virtual space are to be welcomed, as is the tightening of penalties for using a false identity and posting falsified content (deepfakes).”

El Periódico de Catalunya (ES) /

Parents and tech companies not reliable partners

El Periódico de Catalunya doubts the law will do much to improve the situation:

“Parental control is a weak point in the bill. ... After all, it's mainly the parents who allow children access to these technologies at too early an age. ... Expecting them to use the new tools to exercise responsible control is naïve. ... The same applies to collaboration with manufacturers of devices and digital platforms, whose products have been developed with the clear intention of attracting attention. ... It would be possible to effectively check the personal identity of every digital user. ... But this would be fraught with potential dangers in terms of privacy.”

Jornal de Notícias (PT) /

Bring debate to the European level

Jornal de Notícias praises the Spanish strategy:

“Many of the measures proposed by the new law will be difficult to implement, starting with the age verification of internet users. But they have the potential to reinforce the obligations and sanctions for tech companies, introduce new targets for digital literacy and the fight against addiction, and trigger a debate that should take place at the European level. ... Disinformation and manipulation are reaching proportions that require our collective attention. They threaten to interfere in electoral processes and completely distort the prevailing opinions on issues that affect our coexistence and social cohesion.”