Spain proposes a law to improve the safety of children online, including virtual restraining order

BARCELONA The Spanish government has proposed legislation to protect children against online threats. This includes virtual restraining order for felons and a higher age to open social media accounts.

At a press conference held after the Cabinet meeting, Justice Minister Felix Bolanos stated that the proposal was aimed at protecting the health, safety and well-being of children as well as ensuring the peace of families. The Spanish left-wing government’s minority will need other parties’ support to pass the law.

The public has become more concerned after a series of sexual abuse and violence cases linked to the Internet. Pedro Sanchez, Prime Minister of Spain, has stated that pornography aimed at minors is a “real epidemic” in Spain. Around 25% of children aged 12-15 have been exposed online to pornography.

The Spanish government has banned cellphones from elementary schools, and requires high schools to justify the use of these devices for educational purposes. According to the government, children receive their first mobile phone on average at age 11.

The bill will modify the Criminal Code to include specific crimes such as sharing pornographic materials with minors, and creating “deepfake images” using artificial intelligence. This is especially true if the material targeted victims with sexually abusing material. The bill also targets “grooming”, a practice used by sexual predators in order to gain the trust of children.

Criminals convicted of felonies who use the Internet as a tool to commit them will face virtual restraining order prohibiting their contact with victims online, and a ban on certain online activities.

In Spain, the minimum age to open a social media profile will rise from 14 years old to 16 years old. The minimum age for opening a social media account in Spain will increase from 14 to 16.

Teachers will be trained in how to teach students about Internet safety, and public awareness campaigns will be launched on the dangers digital addiction, abuse and concerns regarding privacy.

Catalina Perazzo, of Save The Children – a non profit organization that the Spanish government consulted in drafting the bill – said: “This is all about education.”

Perazzo, a Spanish state broadcaster, told RTVE that “the responsible and ethical usage of digital applications (must be included in the curriculum)” AP

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