In France, parents will have to think twice before publishing too many pictures of their kids on social media.
“The message to parents is that it is their responsibility to preserve their children’s privacy,” says the author of the project of law.
On February 28, the National Assembly’s legal committee members overwhelmingly approved draft legislation to protect children’s rights to their own photos.
“The message to parents is that it is their responsibility to preserve their children’s privacy,” said Bruno Studer, a Member of parliament from French President Emmanuel Macron’s party who introduced the bill.
“On average, before the age of 13, children have 1,300 images of themselves circulating on social media sites before they are even allowed to create an account,” the politician stated.
French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife, Brigitte, have made internet child safety a legislative priority. Lawmakers also debate age-verification procedures for social media and limits on children’s screen usage.
Studer, chosen for the first time in 2017, has built a career out of online child protection. He has written two landmark pieces of legislation in recent years: one forcing smartphone and tablet manufacturers to allow parents to regulate their children’s internet use and another giving legal protections for YouTube kid stars.
According to the bill’s explanatory statement, one of the most significant hazards to children’s privacy is so-called sharing (a combination of “sharing” and “parenting,” referring to uploading intimate images of one’s children online). According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, highlighted in the article, half of the photographs shared by child sexual abusers were first uploaded on social media by parents.
Among the legal duties of parents, according to the legislation passed, is the protection of their children’s privacy. Both parents would be equally responsible for their children’s image rights. They must “involve the child… according to age and degree of maturity.”
In the event of a disagreement between parents, a judge may prohibit one of them from posting or sharing a child’s images without the consent of the other. In extreme situations, parents may lose parental authority over their children’s image rights “if both parents’ dissemination of the child’s image seriously harms the child’s dignity or moral integrity.”
Before this regulation becomes law in France, the bill and the Senate must pass through a plenary session next week.