Putting the rights and responsibilities of parents above privacy laws, a Spanish court has ruled that parents and guardians can monitor social media use by children and read their WhatsApp messages.
A divorced father of two won the right to read his children's WhatsApp messages as a result of the ruling, the International Business Times reported on Wednesday.
"The development of social networks, as well as WhatsApp, requires attention and vigilance of the parents to preserve the indemnity of minors," the court was quoted as saying.
The man was facing the charge of breaching the privacy right of his daughter after he read her WhatsApp chats. The unnamed man was sued by his ex-wife.
But a court in the northern Spanish city of Pontevedra upheld his actions on December 26, saying that the use of social networks by minors "requires attention and vigilance of the parents", the report said.
The unnamed mother told Spanish daily El Español: "Both my kids told me that their father took them to their bedrooms and went over my daughter's conversations with them."
A lower court in the region earlier backed the mother saying that reading WhatsApp conversations of their daughter by her former husband amounted to breaching the children's right to privacy, an offence that carries a sentence of up to four years in prison as well as a fine.
Judges in the higher Pontevedra court, however, ruled that ultimately both parents had a greater right "to watch over" their children, the International Business Times report said.