California Passes Landmark Children’s Privacy Law
California has passed landmark children’s online privacy legislation that would prohibit a website/mobile app that is directed to minors or that has actual knowledge that a minor is using the site from marketing or advertising a product or service that minors are prohibiting from purchasing (alcoholic beverages, firearms, ammunition, spray paint, tobacco products, fireworks, tanning services, dietary supplements, lottery tickets, tattoos, drug paraphernalia and obscene matter).
In addition, the legislation creates something tantamount to a “right to be forgotten for minors” by permitting minors to remove, or to request and obtain removal of, content or information posted on the site. Websites must provide notice to registered users who are minors how they may remove the content and explain that such removal does not ensure complete or comprehensive removal of the content or information on the website.
The bill’s author, Senator Daryl Steinberg hailed the Governor’s signing the bill into law.
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. At the same time, this bill will help keep minors from being bombarded with advertisements for harmful products that are illegal for them to use, like alcohol, tobacco and guns. I thank Governor Brown for recognizing that these common sense protections will help our children as they navigate the on-line world.
The bill was opposed by the Center for Democracy in Technology who argued that
the bill’s focus on sites “directed to minors” under the age of 18 will leave operators of websites, online services, and applications that are popular with young adults uncertain of their obligations under the law. As discussed in our comments to the earlier draft legislation, we are principally concerned that this legal uncertainty for website operators will discourage them from developing content and services tailored to younger users, and will lead popular sites and services that may appeal to minors to prohibit minors from using their services. Because of this concern that the bill will have the unintended consequence of reducing minors’ access to information and platforms for expression online, CDT must continue to oppose SB 568.
THE LAW GOES INTO EFFECT ON JANUARY 1, 2014. YOU SHOULD REVIEW THE TERMS OF THE LAW CAREFULLY SINCE THE CALIFORNIA ATTORNEY GENERAL HAS MADE PRIVACY A PRIORITY AND HAS CREATED A SPECIAL PRIVACY ENFORCEMENT UNIT.