Snapchat has admitted that its age-verification tools do not work, and that underage children have been able to sign up for the app.
Speaking to MPs today, Snapchat said that some of its current processes couldn’t completely block children under the age of 13 from signing up to the app.
Based on the findings, Snapchat says it is working the government to create a new age verification system that could be used across platforms to keep underage children from accessing inappropriate content and services.
Snapchat directors were making their first appearance before the House of Commons’ Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) select committee, where they were also questioned over whether its Streaks feature fuels addictive use of the app.
When asked, the firm’s senior director for public policy international Stephen Collins agreed that in some cases its age verification processes “did not work”.
“What we need is an age verification system which is robust and works, and we’re working hard with the Home Office and other agencies connected with it to create that,” he said.
“We have to hold our hands up and be honest. Anybody who works in the internet industry will tell you that it’s not possible to have a foolproof way to keep under 13s off any platform.”
Committee member and MP for Wrexham Ian Lucas called the situation “unacceptable”.
“You are responsible for Snapchat. You are responsible for the age verification system and it doesn’t work on the popular way of signing up to Snapchat,” he said.
“We get a lot of issues from our constituents concerning children and the impact of social media, and age verification is really important.”
The app, which has 186 million daily active users, was also asked about its policy on sharing data with law enforcement agencies.
Earlier this month Snapchat was criticised by Prime Minister Theresa May after it refused to directly cooperate with police in a fresh investigation following the online grooming, rape, and murder of 14-year-old Breck Bednar.
The company instead said the request would have to be processed through the United States.
Mr. Collins said that because the company’s data controller was the US, it had to comply by US law and could not directly co-operate with UK police.
He said there were “exceptional cases”, such as incidents around terrorism, child sexual exploitation and imminent threat to life situations where the company would “act in good faith and directly respond to the requests”.
However, he added that the current legal framework around mutual assistance between the UK and the US was a “very slow process” and that it was “frustrating to everybody”.
The company also defended its design as a platform, arguing that unlike other apps such as Facebook and Twitter, it did not fuel an addictive cycle of constantly scrolling and checking news feeds.
Will Scougal, Snapchat’s director of creative strategy said: “There is a fundamental difference between the way we position ourselves and the way the app is built versus platforms you might instinctively compare us to.”
He added that unlike other platforms, which open to feeds and encourage users to consume, Snapchat “opens to the camera” and users are encouraged to only share with their close friends.
“We actually don’t see ourselves as a social network because it’s not a broadcast-to-many, validate-the-content experience. It’s more a communicate with fewer people that you genuinely know – and it’s more a conversation than a broadcast platform.”
However, the directors did acknowledge concerns raised by MPs about the app’s Streaks feature, a range of emojis which indicate how regularly two friends speak to each other on the service.
In response to suggestions from the committee that they had heard concerns over the feature becoming a pressurising tool to measure friendships, Mr. Collins said it was “fair comment” and that the platform would look again at the feature.
World Bank pushes G-20 to extend debt relief to 2021
World Bank Group President David Malpass has urged the Group of 20 rich countries to extend the time frame of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative(DSSI) through the end of 2021, calling it one of the key factors in strengthening global recovery.
“I urge you to extend the time frame of the DSSI through the end of 2021 and commit to giving the initiative as broad a scope as possible,” said Malpass.
He made these remarks at last week’s virtual G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting.
The World Bank Chief said the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the deepest global recession in decades and what may turn out to be one of the most unequal in terms of impact.
People in developing countries are particularly hard hit by capital outflows, declines in remittances, the collapse of informal labor markets, and social safety nets that are much less robust than in the advanced economies.
For the poorest countries, poverty is rising rapidly, median incomes are falling and growth is deeply negative.
Debt burdens, already unsustainable for many countries, are rising to crisis levels.
“The situation in developing countries is increasingly desperate. Time is short. We need to take action quickly on debt suspension, debt reduction, debt resolution mechanisms and debt transparency,” said Malpass.
Kenya’s Central Bank Drafts New Laws to Regulate Non-Bank Digital Loans
The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) will regulate interest rates charged on mobile loans by digital lending platforms if amendments on the Central bank of Kenya Act pass to law. The amendments will require digital lenders to seek approval from CBK before launching new products or changing interest rates on loans among other charges, just like commercial banks.
“The principal objective of this bill is to amend the Central bank of Kenya Act to regulate the conduct of providers of digital financial products and services,” reads a notice on the bill. “CBK will have an obligation of ensuring that there is fair and non-discriminatory marketplace access to credit.”
According to Business Daily, the legislation will also enable the Central Bank to monitor non-performing loans, capping the limit at not twice the amount of the defaulted loan while protecting consumers from predatory lending by digital loan platforms.
Tighter Reins on Platforms for Mobile Loans
The legislation will boost efforts to protect customers, building upon a previous gazette notice that blocked lenders from blacklisting non-performing loans below Ksh 1000. The CBK also withdrew submissions of unregulated mobile loan platforms into Credit Reference Bureau. The withdrawal came after complaints of misuse over data in the Credit Information Sharing (CIS) System available for lenders.
Last year, Kenya had over 49 platforms providing mobile loans, taking advantage of regulation gaps to charge obscene rates as high as 150% a year. While most platforms allow borrowers to prepay within a month, creditors still pay the full amount plus interest.
Amendments in the CBK Act will help shield consumers from high-interest rates as well as offer transparency on terms of digital loans.
Scope Markets Kenya customers to have instant access to global financial markets
NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 20 – Clients trading through the Scope Markets Kenya trading platform will get instant access to global financial markets and wider investment options.
This follows the launch of a new Scope Markets app, available on both the Google PlayStore and IOS Apple Store.
The Scope Markets app offers clients over 500 investment opportunities across global financial markets.
The Scope Markets app has a brand new user interface that is very user friendly, following feedback from customers.
The application offers real-time quotes; newsfeeds; research facilities, and a chat feature which enables a customer to make direct contact with the Customer Service Team during trading days (Monday to Friday).
The platform also offers an enhanced client interface including catering for those who trade at night.
The client will get instant access to several asset classes in the global financial markets including; Single Stocks CFDs (US, UK, EU) such as Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google, BP, Carrefour; Indices (Nasdaq, FTSE UK), Metals (Gold, Silver); Currencies (60+ Pairs), Commodities (Oil, Natural Gas).
The launch is part of Scope Markets Kenya strategy of enriching the customer experience while offering clients access to global trading opportunities.
Scope Markets Kenya CEO, Kevin Ng’ang’a observed, “the Sope Markets app is very easy to use especially when executing trades. Customers are at the heart of everything we do. We designed the Scope Markets app with the customer experience in mind as we seek to respond to feedback from our customers.”
He added that enhancing the client experience builds upon the robust trading platform, Meta Trader 5, unveiled in 2019, enabling Scope Markets Kenya to broaden the asset classes available on the trading platform.