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California To Introduce “Minor Eraser” Law To Protect Kids On The Internet

Monday, January 26th, 2015

California is all set to introduce the “Minor Eraser” law from 1st January’ 2015 to protect the interests of children and teens on the World Wide Web. Once the law comes into effect, minors residing in the state would be able to request online service providers to remove their personal information and content from the provider’s sites and databases. The law also forbids providers of online services from sharing personal information of minors with third parties for the sole purpose of marketing. The new law is applicable for online service providers (including providers of mobile apps, websites and online services) whose services are solely directed towards minors (person under 18 years of age) or those who are aware that their services are actively being used by the minors.

After 1st January, all online service providers whose members consist predominantly of minors would be covered by the law. Service providers collecting age or date of birth information from users will also need to follow the legislation if the services offered by them are used by minors. The statute also says that it is possible for a website or online service to have a portion of its service directed towards minors even if other parts of it are dedicated to adults or a more general audience. Unfortunately, the statute does not offer guidelines for finding out the core audience of a service or website so it would be very difficult for providers of general purpose services to determine whether their site or app would come within the ambit of the law. However, the legislation makes it clear that an online service should not be considered as targeting minors simply because it links to sites or services that are directed towards minors.

As per the provisions provided by the “Minor Eraser” Law, online service providers would henceforth need to honor data deletion requests made by registered users of the service. It is notable that information posted by minors which is not visible to the general public is also covered by the law. Service providers who currently do not offer data deletion functionality would need to establish a mechanism to process such requests. However, service providers do not have to honor data deletion requests if they are bound by federal or state laws to preserve data, the data was posted by a third party, the minor received some kind of compensation for posting the content, the service provider anonymizes the data posted by its users or if the user did not follow instructions related to posting or deletion of data. The service provider is deemed to have honored the data removal request when the information posted by the requester is no longer visible to other members of the site or general public.

In order to comply with the law, service providers would also need make a disclosure to minors that they can now request for deletion of posts and personal data, provide clear instructions on how to make such requests as well as inform the applicable users that their deletion requests does not guarantee total removal of data from its website or database.

January 26, 2015

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