Harder To Lie About Age Online? Govt Said To Plan New Social Media Framework

The Indian government is gearing up to implement a comprehensive framework for social media and internet platforms that aims to ensure age verification and effective parental consent management.

What Happened: The framework will extend its application to major platforms, including Meta’s Facebook, Instagram, Google’s YouTube as well as educational technology and health service providers, Economic Times reported, citing sources. This initiative is reportedly part of the executive rules under the Digital Personal Data Protection Act, passed into law in August.

To enhance user safety, especially for minors, the framework would introduce various options for age-gating processes. Users under the age of 18 may need to undergo age verification through processes like DigiLocker, Aadhaar-based checks, digital tokens or app store-level validation.

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The government is emphasising a nuanced approach, recognizing that different platforms carry varying risks and therefore should have individualised frameworks, a source told the daily. For instance, social media platforms may implement stricter age verification due to higher risks associated with child-stranger interactions compared to educational or fashion apps.

Scheduled for release by the end of the month by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), these executive rules will become integral to adhering to the Digital Personal Data Protection Act, the source added. The Act defines users under 18 as children and mandates explicit parental consent for any data processing related to children by social media or internet intermediaries.

What Critics Are Saying: The provisions have faced resistance from industry executives, citing privacy concerns regarding the tools and identification methods used for age verification. However, the ministry appears committed to these measures and is likely to recommend specific solutions to different intermediaries. These solutions will revolve around determining the user’s age, establishing parental identity and confirming their connection with the child.

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