Children's groups welcome defeat of raising the digital age of consent to 16

Opposition calls to increase the digital age of consent have suffered a setback.

The amendment to the Data Protection Bill to raise the age to 16 has been voted against by the Justice Committee.

Leading children’s groups have welcomed the defeat of amendments to raise the digital age of consent to 16.

Organisations like the ISPCC and Spunout are now calling on TDs to retain the age at 13 at report and final stage of the Data Protection Bill.

They say children will go online anyway and they will not be protected if they lie about their age.

CEO Grainia Long says it is important that a young person’s first experience online isn’t a lie.

She said: "Children aged 13, 14, 15 today whose access would be restricted would potentially lie online.

"Our experience with listening to children on Childline is that the last thing we want is for children to be disregarding age verification technology, in other words, saying an age that they aren't."

Head of the Children’s Rights Alliance, Tanya Ward, said: "At the moment if you're a child you go on, you pretend to be 16, but you're 13, someone tries to groom you, and the Gardaí tries to prosecute them, they can argue 'I thought the person was over the age of consent' and they can't be prosecuted.

"Those are the kind of consequences we're worried about if we set the age of consent at 16."

- DigitalDesk

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