Data Protection Regulation - Age of consent

16 December 2015

The press are reporting that there has been an agreement in relation to the age of consent with regards to the processing of personal data of a child. This is false, this issue is still under consideration in trilogues and nothing has been agreed as of yet.

It has been argued that raising the age of consent to 16 would hamper many businesses and that the EU would create a major barrier to online activities e.g. social networks and children's' websites, as they would be required to obtain parent's consent and this is not currently required.


In several Member States today national law requires that children below a specific age (this varies amongst from age 12, 13 & 14) cannot give consent for the processing of their personal data and that the parental consent or authorisation is required. Social networks are also required in these countries to verify the age of the child and if below the age set out by national law, gather the parent's consent or authorisation.  

The Data Protection Regulation aims to find a common ground between different national laws and requirements in force, which in some cases go beyond 13 or 14 years.

The position of the European Parliament remains the same and we have called for the age of consent to be set to a minimum age of 13 years. The objective behind this is to set a harmonised rule for the EU so that companies such as Facebook do not have to struggle with different rules depending on the Member States they will operate in.

In contrast, the Council's general approach does not set a minimum age. Consequently, this does not address barriers in the internal market and would not make it easier for consumers and businesses.

State of Play

The three institutions are considering that in cases of processing of personal data of a child based on consent, parental consent or authorisation would be required if the child is under 16. This is something that the Council have put forward and are insisting on.

The issue raised by journalists is related to the Council positions not the European Parliament or Commission as the Council are in favour of raising the age of consent whilst the Parliament argue that is should be set to 13 years of age.  

The parliament's position is also in line with US law, where a number of social media services are based, the Children on line privacy act (COPPA) has set a similar requirement to the European Parliaments by setting the minimum age of 13 years for consent.

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