Raise dig­i­tal con­sent age to 16: McDow­ell

Sen­a­tor op­poses ‘grad­ual ero­sion of child­hood’

Irish Daily Mail - - News - By Se­nan Molony Po­lit­i­cal Edi­tor

FOR­MER tá­naiste Michael McDow­ell will to­day urge the rais­ing of the dig­i­tal age of con­sent from 13 to 16 years of age.

Mr McDow­ell, cur­rently a mem­ber of Seanad Éire­ann, told the Irish Daily Mail last night: ‘I am against the grad­ual ero­sion of child­hood and the com­mer­cial­i­sa­tion of kids, which is in­creas­ingly hap­pen­ing at a young age.’

The high-profile bar­ris­ter will in­tro­duce an amend­ment to leg­is­la­tion to­day to hike the age at which a per­son can cre­ate a Face­book profile or an In­sta­gram ac­count by three years. His amend­ment has been cosigned by in­de­pen­dent se­na­tors Vic­tor Boy­han, Joan Free­man, Billy Law­less and Pádraig Ó Céidigh, and Fianna Fáil’s Sen­a­tor Brian Ó Domh­naill.

Mr McDow­ell said the only rea­son the on­line age of con­sent had been pitched at such a Pro­posal: Michael McDow­ell young age was be­cause the Gov­ern­ment was ‘acutely sen­si­tive’ to the fact that Ire­land is a hub to high-tech in­dus­try and many of the world’s largest firms in the so­cial me­dia sec­tor.

The for­mer jus­tice min­is­ter also sug­gested the thresh­old of 13 years, agreed last year, had come about be­cause of an im­bal­ance of power. The in­de­pen­dent sen­a­tor said: ‘Look at who was cam­paign­ing on the is­sue. Kids aged 13 to 16 are not or­gan­ised. Their par­ents have no aware­ness, and apart from Mary Aiken and Pro­fes­sor Barry O’Sul­li­van, no­body is cam­paign­ing on it.

‘But if I in­tro­duced a mea­sure in the morn­ing seek­ing to re­duce the age for the pur­chase of a Na­tional Lot­tery card from 18 to 13, there would be an out­cry.’

Mr McDow­ell will make his case in the Seanad to­day and try to gather sup­port for the in­crease over time, promis­ing to re­turn reg­u­larly to the fight. He is also host­ing an in­for­ma­tion meet­ing in Le­in­ster House to­day, to be ad­dressed by in­ter­na­tional ex­perts Dr Aiken and Prof. O’Sul­li­van. They will make a pre­sen­ta­tion to mem­bers set­ting out why the dig­i­tal age of con­sent should be 16.

Mr McDow­ell’s amend­ment to the Data Pro­tec­tion Bill ‘is very sim­ple in its ef­fect’, he said. ‘It means that the min­i­mum age for con­sent­ing to data re­ten­tion in re­spect of kids’ im­ages and in­for­ma­tion is to be 16, as is the min­i­mum pre­scribed in most of Europe, rather than 13.

‘If you’re not old enough to buy a lot­tery card or to do a host of other things, then why should you be old enough to en­ter into a con­tract with a multi­na­tional tech firm? ‘The cur­rent age is not old enough for con­sent to al­low them to have con­trol of your data or your profile, or for that ma­te­rial to be avail­able to others. How could it be?’

Mr McDow­ell said the ‘threat from pae­dophiles is one thing, but you are mak­ing your in­ter­ests known to com­pa­nies who will ef­fec­tively cre­ate a file to tar­get you for ad­ver­tis­ing, whether it be based on your favourite rock group or your favourite sport’. He added: ‘We will be hold­ing a dis­cus­sion on rais­ing the age in the Seanad, and we will go from there.’

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.