digital personal data protection, dpdp bill
ETtechSome social media and internet platforms have expressed concerns to the ministry of electronics and IT on certain provisions of the draft Digital Personal Data Protection (DPDP) Bill which includes age-gating, sources said. The Bill has defined a child as a person who is below the age of 18 and companies are seeking relaxations in the definition and age limit of children citing different global standards.
The discussions on age-gating came up during meetings between senior executives from social media intermediaries, representatives of trade and policy advocacy bodies and senior officials from the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology held recently to discuss the draft DPDP Bill, which was released on November 18 for public consultation, the sources said.
In the draft of the DPDP Bill, the government has proposed to retain the definition of the age of children as 18 and above. Companies such as Meta, Google, Snap, and others, with users below the age of 18 will have to seek explicit parental consent for processing any data along with other mandates such as banning targeted advertising for children.
Also read | PDP Bill: why defining the term ‘child’ in the digital era is a knotty puzzle for Indian lawmakers
“There are a variety of services such as ed-tech, gaming and others apart from social media companies which will be impacted by this. The bill could have opted for an age-sliding mechanism instead of one threshold of 18. There is some room for more advocacy on this matter,” an executive who attended the meeting said.
Another executive at a social media intermediary said that several issues could arise if the government retained the age of obtaining parental consent for data processing at 18. The issues include conducting age-verification of children through traditional know-your-customer (KYC) norms through identity documents or newer means such as through live photos or videos.
“All of these proposals have massive privacy implications, which would then defeat the purpose for which the concept of age-gating has been introduced in the first place,” the executive said.
The draft of the bill also proposes that companies which deal in such data groups will not process data in any way that harms the children. Further, it proposes that data fiduciaries “shall not undertake tracking or behavioural monitoring of children or targeted advertising directed at children”.
Experts have argued that the obligations prescribed in the draft of the DPDP Bill are a departure from similar norms globally. For example, the United States (US) and the European Union (EU) have a tiered system for defining age limits and recognise varying levels of maturity of young adults and teenagers while prescribing the age of consent and the rules for data processing.
While the US, under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPA) prohibits processing data of children below the age of 13, the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has varied norms for consent between the age of 13 and 16, depending on the age group adopted by each member state within the union.
Emails sent to Meta, Google and Snap seeking their views on the issue and the meeting with the ministry did not elicit any response.

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