Spanish Courts Rule in Parental Authority Over Privacy Rights

By Jackson Parker | USA

The Provincial Court of Pontevedra recently ruled parental responsibility over children’s privacy in the case of a woman against her ex-husband on Tuesday, December 26th. The woman filed on the behalf that her ex-husband was breaching the privacy rights of their children by forcibly reading their WhatsApp chats, which would break article 197 of the Criminal Code. Entailing one to four years of jail time with a fine “to discover the secrets or violate the privacy of another, without your consent, take possession of your papers, letters, emails or any other documents or personal effects (…)“.

The complaint filed detailed the father threatening to take the children to the police after the children refused to give him their cell phone passwords. The court emphasizes “the defendant shares with the complainant the parent authority of his minor children and, therefore, has an obligation under the article 154 Civil Code to watch over them, educate them and provide them with an integral education.”

The court concludes, “the father would have reviewed with the minor, in his presence, certain WhatsApp conversations.” It can not be said from the report of the complaint that the father seizes without the consent of the youngest daughter of his WhatsApp conversations made to review with it certain conversations” and ” neither that they deserved the qualification of data ‘reserved’ as data pertaining to the unknown or hidden privacy of the child and that this would not want the father knew and even less that the defendant sought to discover the secrets or violate the privacy of the child”

The discussion of the control of mobile phones of minors by their parents between privacy and control has been heated, but at the moment the Spanish courts have officially ruled in favor of parental responsibility via the civil code over the privacy protection in the criminal code.

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