A bill introducing the concept of a child’s ‘private life’ has passed France’s Lower House. The legislation is targeting ‘sharenting’ – the intersection of sharing and parenting. It specifically calls out family vlogs made by influencers. French law classifies a child as any person under 18.
What would it do?
The legislation would introduce the concept of a child’s ‘private life’ for parents to consider as part of their care. It would legally become the parents’ responsibility to monitor what images are being posted of their child. It would also allow public officials to intervene if an image “seriously undermines” the dignity or integrity of a child. It does not propose a total ban on posting photos of children on social media.
Why is it proposed?
A statement explaining the reasons for the legislation named the rise of online challenges and family vlogs – videos documenting the lives of families – as an example of conflicting interests between commercial gains and protecting a child. It identifies ‘sharenting’ as one of the main invasion of privacy risks among children. This is due to the difficulty to control the dissemination of online posts, and associated conflicts of interest.
The statement also says online exposure of children increases the risk of harassment and bullying. It also warned that online content could end up on child exploitation forums, especially when it’s of a naked or near-naked infant or child. A study in 2018 found that a child on average will feature in 1,300 photos and videos posted by their parents online by their 13th birthday. The statement also cited a report from the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, which found 50% of photographs exchanged on child exploitation forums were initially posted by parents online.
Protecting children in online forums has been a focus of the French Government under President Emmanuel Macron. A law to protect child influencers from using their social media accounts to run a business was enacted in 2020. This meant children had to receive government authorization before they could enter a business relationship.