policy monitor

France – Proposal for a law prohibiting certain forms of “sharenting”

The protection of minors’ online presence is essential, because they are not yet fully capable to control it themselves. The French legislative proposal aims to limit the content that parents can share of their children, hence the name “sharenting”, so that no potentially harmful images are posted online. Particularly, images or videos that could potentially be exploited by identity thieves or individuals seeking to harm children would be prohibited.

The proposal introduces the general provision that parents are mutually responsible for the protection of their child’s privacy, especially concerning their personal image rights. In case of a dispute between the parents, the proposed provision states that it is not allowed to spread images online without the consent of the second parent or guardian. Lastly, the proposal has a special focus on any content that will seriously affect the dignity or moral integrity of the child.

What: legislative proposal

Impactscore: 2

For who: children, parents, social media platforms, researchers, children rights advocates

URL: https://www.assemblee-nationale.fr/dyn/16/textes/l16b0758_proposition-loi


Protecting the online privacy of minors has been a long-standing priority in French digital policy. This is evidenced by the respective various French laws or regulatory frameworks that e.g. limit minors' access to online content. Some examples include the option for parents to restrict online access on the devices of their children or a necessary age verification before accessing certain websites. Recently, the French parliament published a draft legislation concerning limitations for parents or legal guardians on the online content they can share of their children. This proposal aims to protect the child’s privacy and online image before they can consent to the sharing of the content.

First of its kind in the world, the draft legislation consists of the general obligation for parents or legal guardians to restrict what they post online surrounding their children so that their privacy and online image is not harmed. This is very important because children in France are not allowed to have an online presence (e.g. a social media account) before they are13 years old.

The dangers of child predators or identity thieves still exists and is one of the main concerns for the involved French policymakers. Bruno Struder, the parliamentarian behind the draft, pointed out that 50% of children’s online pictures end up on child predator sites. This proposal does not directly tackle this problem, but it does remind parents and guardians to think about the content they put online. If the parents do not consider the interest of the child and decide to post pictures regardless, the parents might face being banned from the website and potentially forfeit their authority over the child's image rights.

Another provision in the proposal is the required consent of both parents if there is a dispute between them or in case of non-mutual control over the child. This is to protect the child as much as possible, since both parents need to be consulted before an image is uploaded online and should double-check the content in the interest of the child.

Furthermore, special attention is placed upon any online content that could harm the dignity or moral integrity of the child. This is classified as prohibited under any circumstance. Examples are nude images of young children or any content that could be interpreted as sexually exploitative.

While the legislation must still undergo Senate approval to become law, its unanimous passage suggests that France has moved one step closer to further safeguarding children's online privacy. This draft legislation can thus be seen as a preventive measure, since the parents and guardians are held to be responsible for the right of image of their children.