Measures to protect the privacy of children on social networks

Measures to protect the privacy of children on social networks


After the responsibility of social networks, that of parents and professionals: French MPs adopted measures on Monday to protect the privacy of children in the digital world, before addressing the prevention of their overexposure to screens.

The bill on the image rights of minors, put forward by Renaissance deputy Bruno Studer with the support of the government, was voted on at first reading unanimously, in a climate consensual.

The text, which must now be examined by the Senate, aims to protect children from the excesses of certain parents who expose them without restraint, in particular on social networks.

The deputies then began at the beginning of evening the examination of another bill, carried by the Macronist deputy Caroline Janvier, to tackle the increasing time spent in front of screens, by raising awareness among adults.

Last Thursday, the Assembly addressed social networks by voting at first reading on the obligation for TikTok, Snapchat or other Instagrams to verify the age of their users as well as parental consent for registration of children under 15, under penalty of sanctions.

No “absolute right”

The law proposal of the deputy Studer introduces the notion of “private life” of the child in the definition of the parental authority of 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 the parental authority”, allowing a judge to entrust a third party with the exercise of the child's image rights.

This law aims to “empower parents”, but also to inform minors that “parents do not have an absolute right to their image,” Mr. Studer argued.

According to figures cited by parliamentarians and the executive, a child appears on average “out of 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 parents on their social networks”.

Associations denounce abuses, such as those of family “vlogs” (video blogs) kept by parents racing for “likes” by exposing the intimacy of their children, sometimes in search of advertising revenue.

Some images can lead to “cyberharassment” of children or to “compromise their credibility for future school or professional applications”, underlined the Minister of Justice Éric Dupond-Moretti who supported the text “with strength and conviction”. /p> “Evil of the century”

The second text, currently under review, tackles overexposure to screens, an “evil of the century still largely underestimated by those around young children” according to the deputy Caroline Janvier (Renaissance).

His bill plans to include in the public health code training in screen-related risks for health and early childhood professionals, and the insertion of prevention messages on the packaging of computers, tablets and telephones.

The text also provides that early childhood structures and schools incorporate restrictive rules for the use of screens for supervisors.

For parents, he notably asks for the insertion of recommendations on proper use in the pregnancy diary. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the High Council for Public Health recommend that children not be exposed to screens before the age of two.

Excessive screen time is a “large-scale phenomenon”, with “increased risks of obesity”, “sleep disorders” and “arterial hypertension”, alerted Ms. Janvier.

The executive, which supports these parliamentary initiatives, also wants to be active on these subjects, in particular with its information platform

France will soon be the first country in the world to generalize the presence “by default” on all devices sold on its territory of parental control software, underlined last week the Minister Delegate for the Digital Transition Jean-Noël Barrot.

The government also plans to test a verification solution in March blocking minors' access to pornographic sites.