National Chairperson of Labour Youth Chloe Manahan has expressed disappointment with the Labour Parliamentary Party’s indication that it may back raising the Digital Age of Consent to 16 and expressed support for the Children’s Rights Alliance’ position of retaining the Digital Age of Consent of 13.
Speaking on the matter, Manahan said “We all want to see young people’s data properly protected online, but introducing a Digital Age of Consent of 16 is unworkable and fails to address real threats to online security in a meaningful way.
“The simple fact is that existing age restrictions on online activity go largely ignored, and let tech corporations and social media giants off the hook when it comes to ensuring a safe and secure online environment for younger users. Prohibitive legislation will drive young people’s online activity underground and encourage an atmosphere of complacency around the real dangers of personal data sharing.
“Labour Youth believes that internet access should be a basic right for every citizen. For vulnerable young people, such as those living with mental health difficulties, those suffering domestic abuse or members of the LGBT+ community, online services and social media provide a vital route to information and support networks in a system where many brick and mortar services are heavily overburdened.
“We believe that the Labour Party should endorse a policy which tackles the real issues in data safety without restricting youth access to the internet. Stronger measures to ensure young people are de-identified and not re-identified without consent, removing jargon from online terms and conditions and tackling the misuse of minors’ information by corporations would all be far more effective in promoting online safety than impracticable and arbitrary age restrictions.”
Labour Youth is calling for the promotion of programmes to provide adults and young people with the tools to become more digitally literate and to understand the implications of data sharing online, and for the opening up of a dialogue on internet safety which accepts and embraces the input of young people and expert groups like the Children’s Rights Alliance.