New Law Gives California Minors An "Online Eraser"

The law, signed by Governor Jerry Brown Monday (Sept. 23), allows them to delete posted content that they might regret when they're older. It's part of a larger measure designed to protect children's privacy.

What's the Latest Development?

On Monday (Sept. 23), California governor Jerry Brown signed into law an online privacy bill that, among other things, enables young people under the age of 16 to delete content they've posted on the Internet. Starting in 2015, companies who operate Web sites "will have to clearly explain to young users that they have an option to delete content, give them clear instructions on how to do it and provide some means of deletion." The law also prevents advertisers from targeting minors with ads for certain products, such as alcohol and firearms.

What's the Big Idea?

The law is the first of its kind in the US, and shares some features with the Do Not Track Kids Act, a federal bill that was first introduced in 2011 but died in committee. While there are some questions regarding logistics -- for example, the erase function doesn't apply to content copied or shared by third parties -- California state senator and primary sponsor Tem Darrell Steinberg says the law represents "groundbreaking protection for our kids, who often act impetuously with postings of ill-advised pictures or messages before they think through the consequences."

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