NI Teenager sues Facebook over nude photo

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Between November 2014 and January 2016, a nude picture of a teenage girl from Northern Ireland was posted on Facebook several times by a third party. She is consequently seeking damages from both Facebook and the man who posted the picture for misuse of private information, negligence and breach of the Data Protection Act 1998. Facebook has sought to have the girl’s claim for damages struck out on the basis that it had immediately taken down the picture upon receiving notification. Her lawyers argued the social media site ought to be able to block any re-publications after the first incident. On 13 September 2016 the High Court judge in Belfast rejected Facebook’s argument and the case will now move to a full trial.

Conversely just over a week before this case was heard, Facebook was lambasted by a Norwegian newspaper for blocking a famous war photograph of a naked girl running from napalm in the Vietnam War. When the social media site was being accused of lacking in good judgment, it blamed its algorithms that remove photographs of people ‘displaying genitals’ and restrict images of ‘female breasts if they include the nipple’.

Although internet users today spend one third of their time online on social media, most are still unaware of the privacy policies behind the internet. The use of cookies to store information on web browsers is not uncommon e.g. Facebook use them to ‘better understand how people use the Facebook Service’. Members who enjoy the networking function, therefore, at the same time agree to their data being obtained, held, used, or disclosed.

The Data Protection Act 1998 specifies certain principles on data protection that ought to be complied with. Users of data must make sure the information is:

  1. used fairly and lawfully;
  2. used for limited, specifically stated purposes;
  3. used in a way that is adequate, relevant and not excessive;
  4. accurate;
  5. kept no longer than is absolutely necessary;
  6. handled according to people’s data protection rights; and
  7. kept safely and securely and not transferred outside the European Economic Area without adequate protection.

If you feel that any of your private information has been misused, please feel free to call us on 028 9032 9801 or email us at legal@mtb-law.co.uk.