In today’s social-media focused Internet age, many new doting parents will flood friends’ Facebook news feeds with pictures of their newly arrived chubby-cheeked children. At first glance, this behavior seems innocuous – but the French police earlier this week warned citizens that Internet predators, identity thieves, and other unscrupulous individuals could view those pictures posted by parents online to use for illegal purposes. The children themselves also may be able to bring a claim against their parents who posted their pictures online, since French law prohibits posting an individual’s image online without the consent of the individual in question. The consequences for violating this privacy law include up to a year in prison and a fine of 45,000 Euros.

The idea that posting pictures of an individual’s child online has some sinister privacy consequences for that child is not new. Jay Parikh, vice president of engineering at Facebook, has discussed creating a system where an individual would have to confirm that they really wanted to share a picture of their underage child with the Internet at large. Such a failsafe question would hopefully prompt parents to think twice before putting so much data of their child — who is unable to intervene on their own behalf to stop the posting — online.

Perhaps a culture shift is overdue; it will be another decade until the first children whose pictures were involuntarily plastered on the Internet grow up to face the consequences of a decision they did not make. While doting parents are not wrong to want to share their joy with friends and family, it is apparent that the thought processes involved in posting a child’s photo online do not embrace the full implications of what children may face down the road as a result of their photos being available online so readily. Posting pictures of baby’s first birthday, complete with cake smeared across her infant face, may seem like the trendy thing to do right now, but that once-adorable photo could haunt that same baby twenty years later in a serious job interview.

Kristine Gallardo

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