Californian law gives teens right to delete web posts

Young girl on laptop Teenagers often post first and think later

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California has passed a law that will enable under-18s to make websites delete their personal information.

The law, which will take effect in 2015, only covers content, including photos, generated by the individual.

Companies will not have to remove content posted, or reposted, by others. Nor will they have to remove the information from their servers.

The legislation has been welcomed by Common Sense Media, a charity that promotes children's digital privacy.

"Teens often self-reveal before they self-reflect and may post sensitive personal information about themselves - and about others - without realising the consequences," said chief executive James Steyer in a blog post.

A Pew survey indicated 59% of US youngsters with a social-media profile had deleted or edited something they had posted, and 19% had posted comments, photos or updates they later regretted sharing.

Right to be forgotten

Back in May, Google chairman Eric Schmidt said the internet needed a "delete button".

But not everyone believes it is a good idea.

US think tank the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) is concerned websites will not understand what their legal obligations are.

"Our chief concern is that this legal uncertainty will discourage operators 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," said CDT's policy counsel Emma Llanso.

In 2010 the European Commission drew up legislation to allow citizens the "right to be forgotten" but recently a judge ruled websites were not responsible for personal data appearing on their pages. And some experts think the ruling means the legislation is unlikely to go ahead.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    We are all caught in the Web!!! Its a World Wide problem.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    I love Peter Barry's comment: spot on.
    Hopefully we may soon get personal servers inside our home routers, or even on our smartphones. People can then fully control their data.
    I already have my own "cloud", next to my router. But I agree it is still too difficult for the common mortal to set up.
    The problem remains of others copying from such personal sites and re-posting elsewhere.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    You want to know how laws are passed? Whenever something is a threat to a politician or someone in power. No doubt they're worrying about what their own children post and have posted and whined and moaned until they got their way. This law is ridiculous; by the time you lobby for a post to be taken down the internet will already have rememebered it forever.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    Why are so many large computing projects destined to be costly failures? History tells us we, not our machines, are the problem – and it’s time we tackled that.

    Yeh - Just remember - NOTHING gets deleted - just stored until it bites us in the bum

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    Some bright folks should create an app that recognises when the poster is a little tipsy and save the posts until the following morning. I would pay a subscription for such a filter. It's not just the teens that dabble in trollisms at their weakest moments, as BBC HYS clearly shows.

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    So long as social media is "free" and the user doesn't own the web page then providers will be reluctant to comply.

    A paid-for service with no adverts and page ownership would provide a safer platform and make it easier to monitor/edit content.

    When something is free and you're not the customer, it's because you're the product.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    The internet companies have become the providers for the Permanent Record of the NSA. If a democratic population could choose to change their minds or take back mistakes, Big Brother's iron control would be somewhat declawed. Once in power, they never give up willingly.

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    Why only -18s? If they are allowed on the net, they should be bound by all the stupid rules we +18s are. How will they ever learn from their mistakes if they are not held liable for them?

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    And how about a law to stop the terminally stupid from adding all sorts of bullying freak to their "friends" list just to try and make themselves look popular?

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    Only for under 18s?

    What about the over 18s and our freedom of expression???

    I think not - as the data is NEVER erased - but it's stored - somewhere and I don't trust the "somewhere"

    Wake up!

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    If anything, I'm of the mind that 'Stupidity SHOULD Carry a Price'. I find it interesting that this comes about AFTER a recent story about a party of rampaging teens who illegally invaded a retired football player's house and trashed it-- Tweeting Pics and Self-pics every minute of the way. NOW, every tweet is EVIDENCE they wish they could delete. Besides, once you post--Someone else has copied!

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    Why only under 18's, yes they're more vunerable but still why not everyone?
    Also the big problem area is stuff posted by someone other than the person its about. Whilst a welcome move it will have little effect on cyber bullying

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    Most of us have posted things online that make us cringe looking back at them years later. Kids have always done stupid things, it's a part of growing up. Difference with the web is that it is stored eternally.

    This year a Youth-PCC left her position because posts she made over 5-years prior surfaced. It proved they can be used against you by very pathetic people when it suits them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    Mac Man, the reason for the delay until 2015 is most likely to give sites and content providers enough time to update their code to allow deletion of relevant info.

    If they just started enforcing this law tomorrow it would not be adhered to and would ultimately fail.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    What a great idea, why can't more places do this. Although as a general rule of thumb if you put something on the internet expect it to stay there.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    I agree they should, but why wait until 2015?


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