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In today’s digital world, it is commonplace to share many images on social media. But what happens when images of minors are shown in a picture? Can one of the parents upload pictures of a minor unilaterally? What would the consequences be? These were the main issues faced by Section 12 of the Provincial Court of Barcelona and settled in Judgment 385/2018 of May 15.

The case arose from a dispute over the custody of a child born out of wedlock. In the first instance, shared parental authority was established, while exclusive custody was awarded to the mother. The father appealed the ruling, among other reasons because the prohibition of publishing images of the minor on social media unless both parents’ consent was given had not been expressly established.

The minor’s image rights are part of parental authority, meaning that the parents have the right and duty to ensure that the minor’s interests are protected. For this reason, it is the parents who must authorize the uploading of images of the minor to the internet. In this case, after examining the dispute, the Provincial Court established that when a parent wishes to share a picture of the minor on social media, the other parent’s prior consent must be sought. The reason for this, according to the court, is that the current everyday nature of this kind of action—uploading pictures on social media—leads to it being done impulsively, sometimes without protecting the interests of the minor who may in the future feel uncomfortable with the published image.

Thus, should either parent unilaterally upload an image of the minor and should the image be prejudicial to his or her honor or reputation, the other parent would be able to file legal actions, which might even affect the established custody arrangement.

When ruling, the court considered whether the parents’ consent should be explicit or tacit. In this regard, no final decision was reached, as it stated that this is a case-based factor, which will thus depend on the specific characteristics of the case.

Based on these considerations, the court admitted the appeal filed by the father, establishing that both parents must give their prior consent to the uploading of images of the minor.

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Jorge Monclús

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