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Norway: Appeals Court Finds Mother Guilty of Privacy Violation for Publishing Video of Daughter on Social Media

(June 11, 2019) On April 2, 2019, the Norwegian Haalogaland Appeals Court found that a mother had violated the privacy rights of her daughter by posting information about her on a public Facebook page. ( Haalogaland Appeals Court Decision, LH-2019-1192 , Apr. 2, 2019 (in Norwegian) (by subscription).)
The appeal was brought by a mother, who had previously lost a child protection case because Norwegian authorities had evaluated her abilities as a mother as deficient. The mother, unhappy with the decision, proceeded to create a Facebook group titled “B Must Come Home” that included video of her daughter, pictures of letters pertaining to her daughter’s case, and posts with derogatory comments against the responsible authorities. ( Id . (all translations by author).)
The Appeals Court found that the published material concerning the child, who at the time was seven years old, was very sensitive and should therefore not have been published. Because the daughter was so young, it was immaterial what she thought about the publication, and the court noted that although she did not oppose the publication now, she might react differently later in life, for example, in her teenage years. ( Id .)
The mother claimed that the publication fell under the provision in the Act on Children and Parents requiring that parents act on behalf of their children. (§ 30 Lov om barn og foreldre (barnelova) [Act on Children and Parents (Child Act), LOV-1981-04-08-7, as amended ]. The court, however, argued that if it allowed that claim, a child could never be protected from privacy violations committed by its parent. ( Id .)
The court proceeded to quote the legal history of the provision on respect for privacy, in which the legislature explicitly stated that the provision could “be used against parents who publish personal information about their children online, for example, following a child protection case.” ( Ot. Prp. Nr. 22 (2008-2009 ) [Government Bill No. 22 of 2008–2009] at 425, Regjeringen.no [Norwegian Government Public Information Service website].)
Moreover, punishing the mother for the publication would not violate Norway’s constitutionally protected right to free speech, nor the European Convention on Human Rights. (LH-2019-1192.)
The mother was therefore convicted of having violated the privacy of her child and prohibited from making further publications on Facebook with regard to her daughter. ( Id .)

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