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Privacy Lawyer Update: California Passes Minor Online Privacy Bill

By Eric Misterovich

A recent law to pass in California increases online privacy for minors. Specifically, Senate Bill 568 permits minors to permanently delete their Internet posts from websites such as Facebook, Twitter, and the like, and additionally, requires those website owners to provide that erasing feature.


The law, which will take full effect in January 2015, aims to protect children and adolescents under the age of 18 from living with the harmful consequences that misguided pictures, videos, and text can carry for years to come. For example, an increasing number of college admissions officers and potential employers check social media sites as part of the application process. Thus, evidence of immature behavior could prevent minors from getting into a school or landing a job.


In addition to mandating that websites provide a permanent delete feature for unwanted content, the bill also requires websites that are specifically directed to minors to ban advertisements featuring harmful products, such as alcohol, firearms, and other restricted products. This prohibition also applies to general interest websites when the site owner has actual knowledge that the user is under 18-years-old.


There are, however, a few caveats to the new legislation. For instance, a website owner is not required to erase content which has previously been re-posted by a third party before a minor took action to remove it. Moreover, the bill doesn’t guarantee complete removal of unwanted content, the eraser option is only available to the minor who originally posted the content, and websites are not required to delete the information from its data servers.


While the new legislation has many supporters, there are groups that find faults in the proposed plan. One challenge being that as California is the first and only state to require websites to provide this service, it will force web owners, who are unbound by state lines, to collaborate policies in order to comply with each state’s differing laws. Notably, challengers of the bill also maintain that online content can sometimes serve as evidence of a crime, and that the ability to permanently delete culpable content risks interfering with identifying ownership of that crime.


If you see a privacy lawyer, contact the expert privacy lawyers at Revision Legal at 855-473-8474.

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