California Wants to Give Kids an Online Eraser Button

The state is looking to protect minors from themselves.

Do-overs: Minors are getting a digital "eraser button." 
www.webstrana.com
Brendan Sasso
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Brendan Sasso
Feb. 24, 2014, midnight

Cali­for­nia wants to help keep kids from cre­at­ing In­ter­net legacies they might nev­er live down.

With young people in­creas­ingly post­ing every move they make (and every thought they think) on­line, and with Con­gress do­ing little in re­cent years to ex­pand fed­er­al pri­vacy pro­tec­tions, the state is mov­ing to en­sure that minor youth­ful in­dis­cre­tions don’t haunt its young res­id­ents for years to come.

Start­ing next year, state law will re­quire web­sites to of­fer an “eraser but­ton” for minors — a pro­vi­sion aimed at en­abling any­one un­der 18 to de­lete in­form­a­tion they post on­line.

The meas­ure — which also re­quires web­sites and apps to in­form minors of their rights to have a post re­moved and to make it clear how to ex­er­cise those rights — is part of a dec­ade-plus pat­tern in a state that is home to the world’s largest In­ter­net com­pan­ies and to some of the toughest on­line pri­vacy reg­u­la­tions in the na­tion.

In 2002, Cali­for­nia be­came the first state to pass a law re­quir­ing com­pan­ies to no­ti­fy cus­tom­ers if their data pri­vacy has been breached. Today, 46 states plus the Dis­trict of Columbia have data-breach no­ti­fic­a­tion laws, and Con­gress is con­sid­er­ing a fed­er­al stand­ard.

In 2003, the state passed the land­mark Cali­for­nia On­line Pri­vacy Pro­tec­tion Act, which re­quires all web­sites that col­lect per­son­al in­form­a­tion to post clear pri­vacy policies.

Of­fi­cials have been ag­gress­ive in en­for­cing the on­line pri­vacy law: Cali­for­nia At­tor­ney Gen­er­al Kamala Har­ris has in­ter­preted the le­gis­la­tion to cov­er not only web­sites but also mo­bile ap­plic­a­tions, and in 2012 she sent let­ters to 100 mo­bile apps that lacked ad­equate pri­vacy state­ments. Thirty days later, Delta Air­lines still hadn’t up­dated its app, so she sued.

Last year, Har­ris also suc­cess­fully lob­bied the Le­gis­lature to pass a law re­quir­ing sites and ad­vert­isers to dis­close wheth­er they hon­or “do-not-track” re­quests, for­cing com­pan­ies to re­veal wheth­er they are track­ing users against their wishes.

Pri­vacy ad­voc­ates have cel­eb­rated Cali­for­nia for lead­ing the way on a crit­ic­al is­sue.

“I think [Cali­for­nia of­fi­cials] re­cog­nize that the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment has pretty much ab­dic­ated its re­spons­ib­il­ity to pro­tect con­sumers,” said Justin Brook­man, dir­ect­or of con­sumer pri­vacy for the Cen­ter for Demo­cracy and Tech­no­logy.

And be­cause of the glob­al nature of the In­ter­net, whatever Cali­for­nia re­quires fre­quently be­comes the stand­ard for on­line busi­nesses around the world.

Not every­one, however, is so thrilled with the state’s tough stand­ards.

Crit­ics ar­gue that the eraser-but­ton law cre­ates a false sense of se­cur­ity for teens — there’s noth­ing the state can do, after all, to stop people from down­load­ing em­bar­rass­ing pic­tures from Face­book or retweet­ing an ill-ad­vised tweet. And as many young people have learned, once con­tent is shared on the In­ter­net, it’s nearly im­possible to take back, even if the ori­gin­al ma­ter­i­al is pulled.

Busi­ness groups also warn that Cali­for­nia is in danger of strangling the in­dustry that has provided a tre­mend­ous eco­nom­ic boost to the state and the en­tire na­tion.

But ab­sent any ac­tion at the fed­er­al level, states have been left to their own devices, so to speak. Wash­ing­ton is do­ing little to pro­tect the first gen­er­a­tion in his­tory with a 1-click op­tion for ru­in­ing their lives, and Cali­for­nia’s eraser-but­ton law, however con­tro­ver­sial, is an at­tempt to step in­to that breach.

What We're Following See More »
ANOTHER GOP MODERATE TO HER SIDE
John Warner to Endorse Clinton
6 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton will score another high-powered Republican endorsement on Wednesday, according to a campaign aide: retired senator John Warner of Virginia, a popular GOP maverick with renowned military credentials."

Source:
AUTHORITY OF EPA IN QUESTION
Appeals Court Hears Clean Power Plant Case
7 hours ago
THE LATEST

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Tuesday "heard several hours of oral arguments" over the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan rules. The 10-judge panel "focused much of their questioning on whether the EPA had overstepped its legal authority by seeking to broadly compel this shift away from coal, a move the EPA calls the Best System of Emission Reduction, or BSER. The states and companies suing the EPA argue the agency doesn’t have the authority to regulate anything outside of a power plant itself."

Source:
$28 MILLION THIS WEEK
Here Come the Ad Buys
7 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Spending by super PACs tied to Donald Trump friends such as Ben Carson and banker Andy Beal will help make this week the general election's most expensive yet. Republicans and Democrats will spend almost $28 million on radio and television this week, according to advertising records, as Trump substantially increases his advertising buy for the final stretch. He's spending $6.4 million in nine states, part of what aides have said will be a $100 million television campaign through Election Day."

Source:
UNLIKELY TO GET A VOTE, LIKELY TO ANGER GOP SENATORS
Obama Nominates Ambassador to Cuba
11 hours ago
THE LATEST
GOP REFUSED VOTE ON FCC COMMISIONER
Reid Blocks Tech Bill Over “Broken Promise”
11 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Monday night's debate may have inspired some in Congress, as Senate Minority Leader has decided to take a stand of his own. Reid is declining to allow a vote on a "bipartisan bill that would bolster U.S. spectrum availability and the deployment of wireless broadband." Why? Because of a "broken promise" made a year ago by Republicans, who have refused to vote on confirmation for a Democratic commissioner on the Federal Communications Commission to a second term. Harry Reid then took it a step further, invoking another confirmation vote still outstanding, that of Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland.

Source:
×