Is uploading photos of his children risky? - The360 Lifestyle

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  • Sunday, December 1, 2019

    Is uploading photos of his children risky?

    Is uploading photos of his children risky?

    Putting photos or videos of his children on social media is not without risk, warns Option consommateurs by unveiling its latest report Wednesday. 

    This can even have serious consequences for toddlers: identity theft, violation of their privacy, use of personal information for commercial purposes, intimidation and even the use of photos on pornographic sites, says the organization.

    These risks are all the more worrying as they may materialize several years after publication.

    About 84% of children aged 2 and under have a digital footprint - some even before they are born, the organization reports, citing a Canadian Business Wire analysis.

    The policies of use and confidentiality of social networks offer little recourse to children in case of invasion of their privacy by parents. The latter therefore remain the main players that can mitigate the risks, it is written in the report.

    And then, these privacy policies protect in part, "but not completely," warns me Josiane Fréchette, an analyst at Option consommateurs, who found in this study that "many parents rely on the security settings of social media. Others say "I'm not at risk because my friends list is limited" or "I only share with my family members". She recalls that social media themselves collect information about their users.

    That is why the organization recommends - among several suggestions - to amend the privacy laws to include a right to forget about children, that this right to forget can be applied retroactively and it can be exercised before the age of 18.

    For parents, Option consommateurs recommends avoiding any publication containing photographs of the child with partial or complete nudity, as well as any publication disclosing the child's name, date of birth or address.

    The research conducted by Option consommateurs is entitled "Being a parent in the digital age: the sharing of personal information on social networks and its consequences on the right to privacy and the image of children".

    It was funded by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.

    Examples of harmful consequences

    One of the examples cited in the report comes from Australia. In 2015, an investigation by the eSafety Commissioner revealed the existence of child pornography websites containing tens of millions of images from social media such as Facebook and Instagram. There were not only pictures of naked children, in their bath, for example: there were many pictures of children in everyday activities of life, but they were accompanied by comments giving them a sexual character.

    The latter situation greatly surprised the parents of the focus groups organized by Option consommateurs to write his report, Fréchette reported in an interview. "Many did not suspect that."

    Another case? An American mother had the unpleasant surprise to learn that strangers had taken photos of her two twin daughters, on the pot, to publish on a website accessed by pedophiles.

    If posting a photo of your child on his birthday or first day of school may seem trivial, think twice, warns the consumer rights organization. Because these pictures can be a source of valuable information.

    "From a parent's online publications, you can get the name, date of birth and address of a child. According to financial institution Barclays, these three pieces of information are the key to identity theft: a fraudster who holds them could open a bank account or apply for credit on behalf of the child," reads in the analysis.

    We must not forget bullying. One of the focus group participants mentioned that he learned that his mother had published a photograph of him as a girl when students at his school used this photo to ridicule him years later.

    "Do not panic, but you have to be careful," says Fréchette. Many parents will post photographs of their children online without having trouble.

    However, she suggests that they return to their publications, check what their children's personal information may have been disclosed, and possibly remove certain publications.

    Option consommateurs is a non-profit association dedicated to defending the rights and interests of consumers, including those related to personal finance, business practices, financial services and privacy.

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