Privacy Law Allows Minors to Scrub Indiscretions, But the Content is Not Deleted


California enacted a law which allows minors to request websites to remove content from websites, but the law does not address data stored on the websites servers, only what it available for view on the Internet. Given the nature of the Internet, it is unlikely any law will ever be capable of actually deleting data once posted on the Internet.

On September 24, 2013 Governor Jerry Brown signed the new law called “Privacy Rights for California Minors in the Digital World” which the New York Times describes as follows:

The right-to-delete, or eraser, provision is part of a broader bill that prohibits Web sites, which have “actual knowledge” that a minor is using the site based on a profile and activity on the site, from running ads for a range of products — including alcohol, spray paint, tattoos, tanning beds and e-cigarettes. The eraser section compels online sites to let users under 18 delete rants, tweets, pictures, status updates and other material.

However the New York Times reported that the law does not:

...require companies to remove the deleted data from its servers altogether, nor does it offer any way to delete material that has been shared by others; a sensational picture that has gone viral, in other words, can’t be purged from the Internet.

Facebook and Twitter already offer minors the right to remove data, and of course this law only protects minors in California. So other states are sure to follow which make enforcement complicated until there is a federal law to protect minors.

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