French Parents Face Fines, Lawsuits And Prison For Posting Pictures Of Their Own Children Online

from the bad-news-for-oversharers dept

As Techdirt reported recently, the controversial "right to be forgotten" -- actually more of a right to be de-linked in search engines -- is starting to spread around the world. But its spiritual home is definitely in Europe, where privacy concerns tend to outweigh other considerations, like freedom of speech, that are regarded as paramount elsewhere -- in the US, for example. Leading the charge in the EU is France, which has been pushing Google to de-link items even more widely. According to a report in The Telegraph, France's zeal in protecting everyone's privacy may turn out to have some rather unexpected consequences:

Under France's stringent privacy laws, parents could face penalties as severe as a year in prison and a fine of €45,000 [about $49,000] if convicted of publicising intimate details of the private lives of others -- including their children -- without their consent.
As if that weren't enough, French parents may also find themselves being sued by their own offspring for posting all those cute pictures of them when they were babies:
Eric Delcroix, an expert on internet law and ethics, said: "In a few years, children could easily take their parents to court for publishing photos of them when they were younger."

Grown-ups who sue their parents for breaching their right to privacy as children could obtain substantial compensation awards, according to French legal experts.
Leaving aside the question of whether it's really appropriate for children to sue their own parents for this kind of thing, there is another important point here: the fact that people are posting intimate pictures of their family life online with no thought for the immediate or long-term consequences. There's little awareness that once something has been disseminated online it's very hard to remove it afterwards. The good news is that Facebook, at least, is aware of the problem, and working on a possible solution:
Jay Parikh, a vice-president of Facebook, said the service was considering setting up a system to notify parents who put photographs of children online without restricting their privacy settings.

Mr Parikh said: "If I was putting online a photo of my kids playing in the park, and I accidentally shared it with everyone, the system could say: "Hey, wait a minute, this is a picture of your children. Usually you only send them to members of your family. Are you sure you want to do this?' "
Even here, of course, there are issues to do with Facebook's use of facial recognition capabilities, which would presumably be needed in order to provide this new system. But a gentle reminder that posting pictures of your children for all the world to see might not be a really wise idea -- just before you publish -- seems like a reasonable approach. It's certainly better than fining you, suing you or throwing you in prison afterwards, when nothing can be done about it.

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Filed Under: children, crime, france, parents, social media


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2016 @ 12:50pm

    Ha ha ha, I hope they get the screws put to them!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 7 Mar 2016 @ 1:03pm

    Oh look another case of bad possible outcomes by ramming a law through to deal with a problem as fast as possible.

    This is the world we created, lawsuits over everything looking to get paid. We've already seen an adult child sue her parents to try to force them to pay for her college, and that case went on far to long. We create more expansive rights without limitations, never looking at how this never works out as intended because handling the details might make them loose media coverage.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2016 @ 1:24pm

    Solution is simple ...

    Stop using social media. Everyone wins when the gov the and corp's don't have anything to mine.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2016 @ 1:56pm

    And what happens when kids post pictures of themselves online?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    AricTheRed (profile), 7 Mar 2016 @ 2:33pm

    Although...

    France has some Fantastic inheritance taxes, like 90% as I recall.

    Perhaps this is a way to squeeze Mom and Dad's estate. Sue them at the end of their life for all of the embarrassing photos, They pay the lawyers, loose their cases and have to pay the kids, lawyers kick back to the kids, mom and dad kick off before having to go to jail. It's like Win-Win-Win!

    Inheritance taxes, another thing that gets solved by the "Right to be Forgotten"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Vic B (profile), 7 Mar 2016 @ 2:56pm

      Re: Although...

      you recall wrong. Inheritance tax in France are based on the amount inherited, the larger the amount the greater the tax. I've not heard of 90% inheritance tax although they can be in excess of 60%.

      The logic behind it is that France wants to prevent concentration of wealth transmitted from generation to generation, much like aristocracies in centuries past. France is a small country where billionaires can wield quite a bit of influence over everything...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Daniel Atlan, 9 Mar 2016 @ 3:16pm

      Re: Although...

      Better check your facts before writing; inheritance tax in France is nil in most cases; so the scenario is moot. That does not make the law right and bright

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Tom Mink (profile), 7 Mar 2016 @ 2:40pm

    Wow

    I don't know if European courts work like in the US with respect to the ability of minors to enter into contracts... but I suspect it's at least as limited. So there's really no way for parents to avoid potential liability, since children couldn't even legally give permission. Worse, since most social media platforms require parental authorization (theoretically at least) that shifts the liability for liability for anything kids post to their parents as well.

    What a mess

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Personanongrata, 7 Mar 2016 @ 2:40pm

    The Fifth Republic has Fallen

    French Parents Face Fines, Lawsuits And Prison For Posting Pictures Of Their Own Children Online

    If it weren't for the benevolence of the state who would protect the children?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Capt ICE Enforcer, 7 Mar 2016 @ 2:59pm

    Woot I am rich

    The day my kid sue me for putting a photo of them as a child on the Internet is the day that I sue them for all the publicity that I offered, along with 13.9% interest

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Vic B (profile), 7 Mar 2016 @ 2:59pm

    France isn't a litigious society like the US is. It is very, very unlikely that offspring would sue their parents over childhood pics. It does make for media attention though.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Douglas, 7 Mar 2016 @ 5:49pm

    Thought

    Why do you think people are posting things online without considering the future? Many of us post pictures knowing they're hard to remove and that they'll be around for decades, because we think sharing our lives now is more important than vague concerns about long-term backlash for things nobody will really care about in a month or year or decade. This isn't accidental -- it's very intentional.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 7 Mar 2016 @ 6:08pm

    Thank God!

    Now we won't have to look at those ugly ass French babys.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    athe, 7 Mar 2016 @ 7:37pm

    Consent...

    So, if this were a possibility, why would any parent/guardian sign their consent to anything that their child does if there's the possibility of it coming back at them once said child reaches the age of consent? If you follow the breadcrumbs, this is a potential outcome...

    And how is taking away and throwing the child's legal guardian into prison for a year (or fining them for a year's salary or greater) in anyway beneficial to the child?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Manok, 7 Mar 2016 @ 7:56pm

    See it as a great opportunity to avoid inheritance taxes and limits on donations to your children. You just let your children sue you, and large sums can be transferred to them tax-free.

    "Where's your lawyer?"
    "No need, your honor, I'm guilty as charged"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    klaus (profile), 7 Mar 2016 @ 11:12pm

    Well I'm really confused. Why is this narrowed down to just children? If this is truly related to privacy, then surely anyone posting a picture of anyone else would come under this. Which would shut down Tumblr (in France).

    From the Telegraph: "Some parents have been forced to remove naked pictures of babies or young children"

    Well ok, but that's not even remotely the same issue as privacy. Maybe I'm missing something (or forgot to take my crazy pills) but I suspect something is being conflated here, and it's hard to tell if it's the French with their comedy lawmaking or The Telegraph desperately trying to be The Guardian.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Mar 2016 @ 6:45am

    What if the parents invoke their right to be forgotten, does that then short circuit the brat's lawsuit?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Mar 2016 @ 7:40am

    Coming to America soon after what the state did in that teen sexting case.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    9Blu, 8 Mar 2016 @ 9:33am

    Can we do this in the US too?

    It would pretty much kill Facebook.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Monday (profile), 8 Mar 2016 @ 2:04pm

    That's funny 'cuz it's someone else...

    Gives a whole new meaning to
    At eighteen you're out the door!

    Then we'll pay for your retirement at nineteen...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Mar 2016 @ 1:35am

    This is the ultimate non-story produced by an imaginative reporter on a slow news day, and obeying the first rule of journalism: when in doubt, make it up. So far as I can see this "story" hasn't been reported in the French media, and it amounts to one self-styled expert saying that, theoretically, at some stage in the future, under existing laws designed for other purposes, French children could try to sue their parents for posting photos of them. This is then linked with a (possibly excessive but understandable) warning about posting naked photos of children that might encourage pedophiles. The whole thing amounts to...nothing.
    Incidentally, the French privacy laws were introduced as a reaction to the vicious press campaigns of the 1930s by right-wing media groups against left-wing (especially Jewish) politicians. We're not in that territory, and as far as I know, no-one has ever been imprisoned under these laws anyway.
    Feeling better now?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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