Publishing children’s pictures on the Internet: legal rules

What does the law on publishing pictures of minors on social networks provide? Why not post pictures of kids on Facebook. Do you need the consent of both parents?

Exists legal rules for publishing pictures of children on the Internet which parents and strangers must respect. First of all, because the minor is unable to defend himself, which is why the parents have to look after his interests. On the other hand, because the stakeholder could also disagree with the dissemination of their images and, despite having given consent in the first place, regret it when they grow up.

But why not post baby pictures on Facebook and on other social networks? First of all, because by doing so, they are exposed to an illegitimate invasion of privacy with consequent recognition of the minor and a danger to their safety (think of those who will harm their parents, taking revenge on the child). But there is also the far from remote possibility that cybercriminals can use the images to make photo montages with a child pornographic background (the charges are full of criminal cases against unknown people). It has also happened that the revelation of the minor’s privacy on social media has triggered episodes of Cyberbullying among young people.

This is why the Guarantee of Personal Data has always reiterated the need to protect the minor’s image as a particularly delicate “personal data” with a high level of protection and guarantee. And it’s certainly not enough to make your Facebook or Instagram profile “closed,” an excuse that often seems to justify the parents’ protagonist. “Who do you want me to see the picture, if not my closest friends”: In fact, once the pictures have been posted online, the pictures can no longer be controlled, they come out of the sphere of availability for its owner to be on everyone’s grace. In short, for those who have not yet understood it, the publication of images of minors online is inherently detrimental to the personality of minors because of the characteristics inherent in the network.

Here are some legal rules that must be respected before pictures of children are posted on the internet. Of course, the same rules also apply to e.g. video.

The child’s consent

The first thing to consider is the age of the child. From 14 years ahead he is entitled to express his consent as to the publication or not of his face on the Internet. He who does not respect his will commits a crime. After all, it has been for 14 years that young people have been able to open their own social profile without the need for parental consent.

It must also be remembered that consent, once given, can be revoked at any time, even after several years. For example, once they have come of age, the portrait subject can request the deletion of all the images that see him in portrait.

Consent from both parents

Self the child is under 14 years of age, consent to the publication of the image must be given by both parents, even if they are separated. For example, one may not post the pictures of their child on their social profile if the other does not want to. Either the father’s and the mother’s authorization is there, or the picture must remain offline. On the other hand, the consent of the parent who has been revoked by the court is not required custody.

This consent cannot be implicitly inferred from the fact that the other parent (ie the parent who does not publish) has the opportunity to view the spouse’s social profiles and therefore be aware of the shares made on the network.

Indeed, while it is true that the law empowers each parent to independently and without consulting the other, decisions in the best interests of children, the consent of both is required by law in all situations of particular relevance and potential danger to the minor, including disclosure of the images of the children on that network, by virtue of the inherent risks associated with the Internet. According to the case law [1] the inclusion of photos of minor children on social networks, in the absence of consent of both parents, integrates the violation of Article 10 of the Civil Code on image protection as well as the legislation on the protection of personal data and from the point of view of supranational sources, art. 1 and 16 of the 1989 New York Convention on the Rights of the Child (ratified in Italy by Law No. 176 of March 27, 1991).

The judges clearly state that “the inclusion of images of minors on social networks constitutes potentially harmful behavior for them, as this determines the spread of the images among an indefinite number of people, known or not, who may be malicious and approaching children ( …) “or they may draw” child pornographic material to be circulated among interested parties, as repeatedly highlighted by the police ” [2].

The prohibition against the separated parent

Even divorced parents may not publish pictures of the minor unless they have first obtained the other person’s permission. Permission that can be denied without the need for any reason.

Thus, the judges have e.g. not infrequently accepted the request of the spouse who does not place the children who have imposed on the ex, who instead lives with the offspring, the cancellation of all pictures of daily life together with the published children. on their profile. social.

Pictures of school trips and leisure activities

Often, leisure centers for children (such as gyms, kindergartens, school camps, scouts, etc.) usually publish children’s pictures for advertising purposes on their pages. Business leaders need to first ask permission from both parents, but it is not enough. They must also take security measures to protect the image of minors and avoid compromising their layout and safety. Therefore, pictures of undressed bodies or in any way compromising or ridiculous poses can not be published.

Precautions to be taken before posting pictures or videos of children on the Internet

In the event that mothers, fathers, and adults in general cannot refrain from adapting to the now prevalent trend of publishing pictures of children, the privacy guarantor recommends using at least some precautions, such as:

  • make the minor’s face unrecognizable (eg by using graphics programs to “pixelate” the faces, which are also free online, by publishing pictures where the minor is portrayed from afar and therefore difficult to recognize);
  • simply cover faces with an emoticon “face”;
  • restrict the visibility settings for photos on social networks only to people you know.

Why not post pictures of kids on Facebook or Instagram?

First of all, publishing photos / videos, even if they are seemingly harmless, can prove to be potentially harmful, as pictures of minors published online can end up in the hands of criminals.

Second, the tendency to make the private public and the indomitable fascination of sharing lead people to be naked online, and even strictly reveal personal information that may harm the image, dignity and personality of the person portrayed, in this case is the minor, a topic that, incidentally, may not agree with the publication itself.

Third, there is the risk that ridiculous images may increase the phenomena of cyberbullying.


[1] The Court of Trani on 30 August 2021, the Court in Rome, 23 December 2017.

[2] Court of Mantua, September 19, 2017.

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