ST. Theresa’s College questioned over the weekend a court order mandating them to surrender all photos taken of the students who were denied to join this year’s graduation rites from their Facebook accounts.
In their pleading STC lawyer Joan Largo said the writ of habeas data issued by the court is devoid of merit since the photos are in the possession of the parents of the students.
Still, Largo said they welcomed the petition if only to remind parents about teaching responsibility to their children.
“Petitioners don’t have the right to ask them in this inappropriate petition for writ of habeas data,” she said.
Largo said soft copies were printed only for purposes of submission to the Prosecutors’ Office of Cebu City and the Regional Trial Court.
She said the flash drive containing the photos is kept in the school safe for presentation during trial.
“All other information asked for such as names, etc. are matters not covered by this writ and are also privileged communication due to the confidences made in the handling of the cases and in response to moral and legal duty,” she said.
Still, Largo said the petition filed by the girls’ parents shouldn’t be denied.
“STC welcomes this development if only to highlight the importance of cyber responsibility and cyber citizenship,” said Largo in a press statement.
She said the petition filed by the parents brings to light the importance of cyber responsibility that has a far reaching effect on the parents, minors and the public in general.
The petitioners said the settings in the Facebook accounts of their children make it only accessible to family and close friends.
But Largo said Facebook’s privacy settings doesn’t bar the friends of the users from sharing it with others.
Largo said it was acknowledged by the courts that there is no reasonable expectation of privacy in social networking sites like Facebook.
“When these minors uploaded their photos on Facebook and permitted their friends to view them, they have been duly warned that “the people you share with can always share your information with others, including apps,” Largo said.
She said the petition filed by the parents against STC should draw a debate on the importance of cyber responsibility.
“Our youth is exposed to the new realities of the cyber age. Unfortunately their parents are handicapped to help them become responsible cyber citizens,” Largo said.
Early this month, Regional Trial Court (RTC) Judge Raphael Yrastorza of Branch 14 mandated STC to surrender all the photos of the girls that were sourced from their Facebook accounts.
The school, its computer teacher Mylene Rheza Escudero and others were ordered to identify the source of the photos they said were taken from a Facebook account. /Ador Vincent Mayol, Reporter