The Spanish antitrust regulator, the Comisión Nacional de los Mercados y de la Competencia (CNMC), has joined the proposed “State Pact” for protecting Spanish children from harmful content online and in social media. The CNMC joins the Spanish Data Protection Authority and Attorney General’s Office, as well as civil society and UN bodies, in supporting the proposal to develop long-term approaches to online safety.  

What Are These State Pacts?

In political practice, a State Pact is an agreement between opposing political parties to enable long-term state action on important issues, regardless of which party is in government. Previous State Pacts have covered areas of economic stability (the 1977 Moncloa Pact), the pension system (Toledo Pact, 1995) and gender violence. Spanish lawmakers will dedicate February 13, 2024, to the issue of online safety.

The Proposal for a State Pact to Protect Minors on the Internet and Social Networks

The proposal for a State Pact to protect minors on the internet and social networks aims to reach a major national agreement recognizing that the access that minors have through the internet and social networks to pornography, gambling, violence and other harmful content is a public health problem that requires solutions.

Serious mental health problems, trivializing school and/or sexual violence, early sexualization, cyberbullying or the capture of personal data, are just some of the potential risks for minors accessing adult content.

To address the situation, in June 2022, the European Association for Digital Transition, promoter of the initiative, Save The Children, the ANAR Foundation, iCMedia, Dale Una Vuelta and Unicef proposed to reach a State Pact.

Content of the State Pact Proposal

The State Pact proposal advocates 15 measures. These measures are classified according to their purpose:

Measure 1 to 5Recognize the problem – The problematic use of the internet, social networks and pornography by minors.
Measure 6 to 8Educate minors in responsible digital citizenship and in affective and sexual education.
Measure 9 to 15Responsibility of all the agents involved, including the industry.

What Entities Have Joined the State Pact Proposal?

More than 100 entities have so far joined the State Pact proposal, including the European Association for Digital Transition, Save the Children, the ANAR Foundation, iCMedia, Dale Una Vuelta and UNICEF.

Some of the member companies, foundations and institutions include the following:

  • The Spanish Data Protection Authority (AEPD)
  • The State Prosecutor General
  • The Audiovisual Council of Andalucía
  • Atresmedia Foundation
  • FAD
  • NordicPharma
  • Women’s Foundation
  • General Bar Association
  • The World Compliance Association

CNMC Signs Up to the Proposal to Protect Minors Online

On January 9, 2024, the CNMC signed its support of the proposal for a State Pact to protect minors on the internet and social networks. The antitrust regulator has lent its support to the proposed politically neutral pact, highlighting its own areas of responsibility.

The CNMC, as the regulator responsible for supervising audiovisual content, along with the Spanish Data Protection Authority, is responsible for analyzing and evaluating the suitability of the mechanisms implemented to ensure that minors are not exposed to harmful content such as pornography.

Among the 15 proposed measures,the following affect the CNMC:

Measure 13 Measures to limit access to inappropriate contentStrengthen the control capacity of the CNMC, AEPD or the body in charge of the competences under the Digital Services Act, providing it with resources and competences.

Establish age verification mechanisms, smart labeling or the establishment of a legal accountability framework for managers responsible for video sharing platforms and content distributors who fail to comply with the age verification obligation.
Measure 15 Strengthening institutions  Reinforcement of resources to public institutions with competences in the protection of the rights of minors in the digital environment, among them, the CNMC.

Creation of a specific working group on the digital area within the Childhood Observatory.

The establishmentof entities or attribution of competences to already existing institutions, in the European regulations governing the digital area.

Public Consultation of the CNMC

The CNMC, as the competent authority to supervise the verification systems of video platforms, has a public consultation open until January 31 to gather observations in that regard. Specifically, it is looking for input on the criteria for verifying that video platforms prevent minors from accessing pornography, violence, gambling and other harmful content.

For more information about the public consultation, please click here.

Next Step

The proposal will be discussed in the Congress of Deputies on February 13, with an exclusive working day dedicated to this subject.

If you would like more information, please contact us.

Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure that the information contained in this article is accurate, neither its authors nor Squire Patton Boggs accepts responsibility for any errors or omissions. The content of this article is for general information only, and is not intended to constitute or be relied upon as legal advice.