The Federal Government wants social media companies to obtain parental permission before creating accounts for kids. 

David Coleman, Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, says a bill could be introduced early next year that introduces a new online privacy code to better protect children and teenagers.

The legislation would prevent social media companies from accessing the data of someone aged under 16 without the permission of a parent. It also calls on companies to make all reasonable attempts to verify the age of users.

Facebook says it is reviewing the draft code it has been provided by the federal government.

Reset Australia, a think tank focused on big tech regulations, says similar legislation in the UK has had positive results. 

“We saw a whole host of changes announced from the digital world in response to that,” says Dr Rys Farthing, the head of data policy at the organisation.

“Things like TikTok, defaulting [under-16s'] accounts to private, and Google announcing that they weren't going to even be tracking young people's ads across the internet the way they were.”

“Placing a requirement on the way that they can use data really starts to change their approach, to change the products they can build, to change what they can serve up to young people.”

She said the legislation should be applied beyond social media companies to protect young people's data more generally, including in gaming and the education sector.