As the French police have warned parents that their grown-up children could sue them for putting their security or privacy at risk in relation to photographs posted by their parents on Facebook and elsewhere when they were younger, many parents in the UK are asking for clarification of the law concerning placing children’s images on the internet, particularly on Facebook.
Back in 2012, European citizens were given a new right by The European Court of Human Rights, which is a ‘Right to the Protection of One’s Image’. The case which resulted in this new right actually involved a real princess, Princess Caroline von Hannover, who applied to the court for an injunction preventing the publication of two series of photographs relating to her private life, which had appeared in German magazines, because she said the publication infringed her right to the protection of her private life and of her own image.
The court agreed with the Princess and the judges stated that in their view, a person’s image constitutes one of the most important attributes of his or her personality because it reveals the person’s unique characteristics and distinguishes the person from his or her peers. The right to the protection of one’s image is in fact one of the essential components of personal development. Therefore an individual has a right to control the use of their image, including the right to refuse publication.
In the case of children, once they grow up, they might not wish to have their images exposed to the world at large, yet they might be prevented from doing anything about the publication. Images that were originally posted on Facebook by the child’s parent might since have been copied to other websites or downloaded by strangers. In theory, the child could successfully sue their parent(s) for breaching their privacy, as the possibility that an image posted on Facebook could be copied or downloaded is real and had been known to the parent all along.
So as parents do we need to think twice before we post images of our children on Facebook?
I think so, but there are opinions to the contrary. Listen to my conversation with Shelagh Fogarty on LBC Radio 97.3 FM.