Italy Takes Creative Approach to Protect Minors from Online Gambling
In an effort to minimize adolescent access to online gambling and other restricted content, Italy has implemented a unique strategy that focuses on controlling teenagers’ mobile phones and devices rather than solely relying on gaming operators to enforce age verification procedures.
Under the new regulation, Italian minors are now unable to freely browse the internet from their mobile phones unless parental controls are activated on their devices. Mobile telephone operators are required to block access to various types of material from the SIM cards of users under the age of 18. The government has identified eight categories of web content deemed inappropriate, including weapons sales, gambling and betting, pornography, religious sects, violence, hatred, anorexia, and drug use.
With an estimated 85% of Italian adolescents using smartphones daily and 72% regularly surfing the internet, the new regulation aims to address the prevalence of unrestricted access to sensitive material. To further strengthen this initiative, the Authority for Communications Guarantees (Agcom) has made the “safe browsing” option for minors’ mobile phones available at no cost.
While the new system is not foolproof and has some limitations, such as its inability to monitor social media interactions and online advertising, it is a step towards greater protection for minors. Additionally, the use of parental control applications, such as Kaspersky Safe Kids and Net Nanny, can provide additional safeguards when properly configured by parents.
The regulations set forth by Agcom also allow minors to cancel the service once they reach the age of 18, offering a safety net for when they become adults. However, the system does not entirely address the issue of minors using SIM cards registered in their parents’ names to bypass restrictions, a common practice in Italy due to the pricing structure and features of mobile plans available to minors.
Ultimately, while the new regulations represent a proactive step in addressing the issues of adolescent access to online gambling and restricted content, it remains crucial for both the government and parents to remain vigilant in protecting minors from potentially harmful online interactions.