New Calif. Law Allows Teens to 'Erase' Bad Internet Postings

Saturday, 01 Mar 2014 05:42 PM

By Todd Beamon

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California now requires social media companies to provide ways for young users to delete embarrassing Internet postings.

The "erase bill" takes effect in January. It was signed into law this week by Gov. Jerry Brown, Fox News.com reports.

"This puts privacy in the hands of kids, teenagers and the parents, not under the control of an anonymous tech company," James Steyer, founder and CEO of Common Sense Media in San Francisco, told Fox.

The regulation applies to apps and requires companies to disclose that minors have the right to erase postings, Fox reports, though it does not compel the providers to remove the content from their servers — which doesn't prevent postings from being found.

The law is the first in the nation and comes in the absence of federal regulation, Fox reports.

That is one objection the Center for Democracy and Technology has to the new law.

The Washington-based group told Reuters that the regulation could lead to a plethora of state laws that would be difficult for technology companies to follow. The center generally opposes any Internet restrictions based on age, Fox reports.

The California law has also brought opposition from Internet companies, which contend that social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter already have such services for all users.

Fox also reports that the companies argue that it would create additional burdens because they would have to determine who lives in the Golden State.

Steyer acknowledged the “reasonable point” critics had on the new burdens placed on Internet companies, but he said the California regulation could lead Washington to pass a federal law.

“This is a groundbreaking protection for our kids who often act impetuously … before they think through the consequences,” California Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg, a Democrat who represents Sacramento, told Fox.

The new law was part of legislation Steinberg sponsored to protect children from certain online marketers.

“They deserve the right to remove this material that could haunt them for years to come,” he told Fox.

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