California’s Senate Bill No. 568 was signed by Governor Jerry Brown on September 23, 2013. Referred to as Privacy Rights for California Minors in the Digital World, it requires operators of websites, operators of online services and applications and operators of mobile services and applications to make special provisions if the operators have actual knowledge that they have users under 18 who reside in California.
Because of the new law, among other things, minors who are registered users must be given notice and clear instructions on how they can request and obtain removal of content or information that was posted by the minor user. The legislative history gives arguments in support of the law.
“[A]s we live more and more of our lives online, it is imperative that our kids have the option to erase data they have shared, posted, or otherwise provided to an online or mobile company, oftentimes without clear consent or parental knowledge and guidance. This bill empowers kids, teens, and their families by providing this important option. Regardless of the platforms we use, our personal information belongs to us. It is not a commodity to be controlled and traded by online and mobile companies.”
Most of us have heard of Tweets and Facebook posts gone horribly wrong by both minors and adults. This new law may allow some young people a second chance at a semblance of an online clean slate.
However, it could be difficult for some operators to know whether they are required to comply with this law and make some overly cautious. An Ars Technica article explored that issue and stated that a “primary concern is that this legal uncertainty will discourage operators from developing content and services tailored to younger users.”
The law does not go into effect until January 1, 2015, so there is still time for compliance. But many operators of popular websites and mobile applications have some tough decisions to make as they update their terms of service.