The “privacy” of children in the process of being better protected

MEPs are taking matters into their own hands to protect children from the abuses that social networks can cause. They adopted measures on Monday to protect the privacy of children in the digital world. The bill on the image rights of minors, carried by the Macronist deputy Bruno Studer (Renaissance), was voted on at first reading unanimously in a consensual climate, far from the virulent debates on pensions.

The text, which must now be examined by the Senate, aims to protect children from the excesses of certain parents exposing them without restraint, in particular on social networks. An approach called “sharenting”, a contraction of “parenting” and “share” in English.

The child’s “private life”

The text of Deputy Studer introduces the notion of the “private life” of the child into the definition of parental authority in the Civil Code. It specifies that the image rights of minors are exercised jointly by both parents. In case of disagreement, the judge may prohibit one of them from publishing images of the child.

In serious situations, the way is even open “to a forced delegation of parental authority”, allowing a judge to entrust a third party with the exercise of the child’s image rights. This law aims to “make parents responsible”, but also to show minors that “parents do not have an absolute right over their image”, argued the deputy.

Half of the images end up on child pornography forums

According to figures quoted by parliamentarians, a child appears on average “in 1,300 photographs published online before the age of 13” and “50% of the photographs which are exchanged on child pornography forums had been initially published by the parents on their social networks.

Associations denounce abuses, such as those of family “vlogs” (video blogs) kept by parents racing for “likes” by exposing their children, some in search of advertising revenue, sometimes with degrading staging. Some images can lead to “cyberbullying” or “compromising their credibility for future school or professional applications”, underlined the Minister of Justice Eric Dupond-Moretti who supported the text “with strength and conviction”.

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