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Gov. Brown Signs New Law: Kids Can Erase Their Internet History

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By Gabriella Khorasanee, JD on September 27, 2013 1:08 PM

In your young and crazy days, did you ever do something you regretted? Have you ever been thankful that the watchful eyes of social media and smartphones with cameras weren't lurking behind every corner?

We know we have. With young adults facing more and more scrutiny in job searches, their Internet history may come back to haunt them (and in very rare cases help them).

SB 568

On Monday, Gov. Jerry Brown signed SB 568 into law, making California the first state to require website operators to allow a minor "to remove, or to request and obtain removal of, content or information posted on the operator's Internet Web site."

While Facebook and Twitter already allow users to delete prior posts, SB 568 has a broader reach and implicates all online providers "directed to" users who are minors.

SB 568 is now law in an age when teens end up in jail for Facebook rants and (stupidly) posting videos (of murders) on Facebook. Though the law has its supporters, there are also many detractors.

Pros and Cons

Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg, who sponsored the bill, stated: "This is a groundbreaking protection for our kids who often act impetuously with postings of ill-advised pictures or messages before they think through the consequences. They deserve the right to remove this material that could haunt them for years to come."

According to The New York Times, the chief executive of Common Sense Media, James Steyer, added: "Kids and teenagers often self-reveal before they self-reflect... [SB 568 is] a very important milestone."

But many say the law doesn't go far enough. For example, the law doesn't cover images or posts that have gone viral, doesn't deal with First Amendment implications, is very ambiguous, and raises Dormant Commerce Clause concerns, reports Forbes.

Even Stephen Balkan, the President of the Family Online Safety Institute thinks it's up to the FTC to regulate, stating to the Times: "This is well-meaning legislation but there are concerns about it... Where California leads, others follow... I think it will be a mess."

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