Children who were mere babies and toddlers when the social media revolution exploded onto the digital scene are growing up quick. Soon enough they’ll be young adults, and they may not be too happy with what their parents were doing with their photos a decade or so ago.
This fact was reflected in a warning from French authorities recently, who warned that not only may kids be unhappy with their baby photos having been splashed online, they will also be able to sue their parents for breaching their privacy. Well, at least in France.
France has some of the stringent privacy laws inside an already acutely-privacy-aware Europe. Their warning comes soon after they renewed warnings about the potential dangers of sharing photographs of children online without appropriate privacy settings. It also comes soon after their neighbours in Germany made a viral plea for parents to stop sharing photos of their kids online.
Should their children choose to take legal action, French parents could potentially face up to a year in prison and a fine of 45,000Euros if found guilty of publishing intimate details – including photos – of their children online without permission.
It is likely that the chances of a successful lawsuit will depend on the nature of the photos uploaded (i.e. bath time photos) and the privacy settings applied to those photos. It’s unlikely that sharing a photo with close friends of your child blowing out their birthday candles is going to land a parent into hot water, but parents can and do go much further than that.
The French authorities also warned against participating in social media chain messages like the recent “Motherhood Challenge” that asked users to post photos of their children online and ask their social media friends to do the same.
The issue of what happens when children of the social media age grow up and how they will deal with the hundreds (if not thousands) of photos of them already being online is raising concerns, and not only in Europe. It is likely that most countries will have to deal with this pressing concern at some point, and it may be that countries like France and Germany are just getting a head start. It is not out of the question that a number of these cases could end up in the courts.
So it all serves as another reminder for parents to think carefully about which photos they choose to upload, where they’re uploading them and what privacy settings they are applying. If you’re sharing is out of control, then be prepared to face the possible ramifications in the not-so-distant future.
How would you feel getting into legal trouble because you posted photos of your kids online? Do you think many parents fail to take into account the rights of their children when it comes to the right for privacy?