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Teenagers under 16 will need parental consent to use Facebook and email under EU laws

Last-minute changes to data protection regulations could mean social media and other internet services requiring parental consent

Teenagers under the age of 16 could be banned from Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and email if they don’t have parental permission, under last-minute changes to EU laws.

The European Union is on the verge of pushing through new regulations that would raise the age of consent for websites to use personal data from 13 to 16.

Officials quitely amended proposed data protection laws last week to increase the age and put the EU out of step with rules in other parts of the world.

It would mean that millions of teenagers under 16 would be forced to seek permission from parents whenever signing up to a social media account, downloading an app or even using search engines.

The law, due to be negotiated between member states on Tuesday, would cause a major headache for social media companies. Almost all major social media services, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and Google, currently have a minimum age of 13, in compliance with European and American laws.

Once laws are agreed, they are due to be voted on by the European parliament’s civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee on Thursday before being ratified by the parliament itself in the New Year. Countries would then have two years to implement the law.

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