Italy plans to control minors’ social media access

The Italian government is considering measures to introduce a ‘public digital identity system’ in order to better control children’s access and use of social media platforms. 

Tik Tok application icon on Apple iPhone screen close-up. [Shutterstock]

The Italian government is considering measures to introduce a ‘public digital identity system’ in order to better control children’s access and use of social media platforms. 

The move comes following the death of a 10-year-old girl from Palermo, who suffocated after participating in a ‘choking challenge’ on the video-sharing app, TikTok. 

This prompted the Italian Data Protection Authority to impose an immediate and temporary block on access to TikTok users until 15 February for those whose age could not be verified.

And for their part, the Italian government has been mulling over ways in which the safe use of social media platforms by minors could be better regulated in the future. 

In this vein, the Italian Minister for Technological Innovation, Paola Pisano, has called for the collaboration of social media platforms on a new project pitched by the government, the Public Digital Identity System (SPID).

According to Italian news outlet ilsole24ore, the plans would allow parents and guardians to verify the identity of minors who attempt to register for social media services online. 

Such platforms popular with children across the country today include TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube, many of which already have age restrictions in place. The Italian government is now charting an effective way to enforce such age requirements. 

The move would also allow guardians to receive warnings for any alarming behaviour by minors, such as attempts to reach dangerous websites or access harmful content.   

For the plans to go ahead, they would require the prior approval of the Italian Data Protection Authority. 

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