Child privacy, Brexit and more

Family Law|August 25th 2017


A report concerning the impact of broadcast and social media on the privacy and best interests of young children has been published by the University of Winchester. Amongst eight recommendations, the report calls for young children to have an independent right to privacy, which is not dependent on what their parents think about their own privacy. The report also calls for social media and internet companies to consider young children’s privacy and best interests in their operations. Marion Oswald, Head of the Centre for Information Rights at the University of Winchester and one of the report’s authors said: “As a society, we’re exposing ever younger children more and more in broadcast media and on the internet, by filming them for ‘science entertainment’ programmes and by ‘sharenting’ on social media sites. Young people may therefore grow up in a world which already knows a lot about them that they have not chosen to share. A child may grow to regret their exposure in the media.  We shouldn’t put all our eggs in the basket of the so-called ‘right to be forgotten’. By the time a child is older, it may be too late.” Interesting stuff, although quite how such a right to privacy would work in practice, I’m not sure.

Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan, the heterosexual couple who want to enter a civil partnership instead of getting married, have been granted permission to take their case to the Supreme Court. They argue that the law, which only allows same-sex couples to enter into a civil partnership, is discriminatory. They applied for a judicial review of the law, but their application was dismissed. They then appealed to the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal agreed that the law was discriminatory, but two of the three judges held that the discrimination was justified because the Government was looking into changing the law, and needed more time to consider the matter. However, the couple were not prepared to wait for the Government to change the law, and hence sought to appeal to the Supreme Court. I wish them well, although I still wonder whether it would be simpler for the Government to just do away with civil partnerships, rather than have the complication of two types of legal relationship between couples.

The Department for Exiting the European Union has published a paper outlining the United Kingdom’s position on cross-border civil judicial cooperation in the future partnership with the European Union. Commenting on the paper, Daniel Eames, chair of Resolution’s International Committee, said: “We agree that close co-operation with the EU is vital on family law matters post-Brexit. This was a key recommendation arising from the Justice Select Committee’s enquiry, to which Resolution gave evidence late last year. As we said to the committee at the time, families benefit from rules which bring legal certainty, and limit the length and costs of proceedings in family law cases, for the benefit of children and their parents. Cross border family law for intra EU-UK cases – whether divorce, children or financial – requires reciprocity. Without reciprocal rules, there can be no legal certainty in treatment with all the ensuing complications, delays and potential costs for families and children or local authorities undertaking their child protection function.” Agreed. Let us hope that this is properly sorted out before we leave the EU.

The Ministry of Justice and HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) have announced in a press release that HMCTS has invested £80,000 in victim and witness waiting rooms in five courts across the country. The rooms, we are told, will make the experience of victims and witnesses easier, by making a number of changes including the addition of children’s toys. The press release says that: “Research conducted with court users has shown that small changes such as these can make the court experience less intimidating for some of the 156,000 victims and witnesses who give evidence each year – particularly children and the vulnerable.” Well, I’m all for improving facilities at court – I recall that in most courts parties (including alleged victims) and witnesses used to have to mill around together in a general waiting area, perhaps with a few interview rooms for those lucky enough to get hold of one. However, just five courts? I suppose it’s a start…

And finally, the prize for the most profound research finding must go to the American researchers who came up with the totally unexpected conclusion that the belief that your spouse spends too much can lead to marriage problems. Who would have thought it?

Have a good weekend and Summer Bank Holiday.

Image by Hamza Butt via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence

Author: Stowe Family Law

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