Have no fear, all you 14-year-old virgin boys in California who find it funny to post social-media bios that say that you're "hung like a rhinosaurus [sic]" and that you "get more ass than a toilet seat." As of 2015, you will be legally guaranteed the right to delete that dumb shit before serious people who can influence your future see it!
Yesterday, California governor Jerry Brown signed a law confirming minors will be easily able to erase anything they've posted on the web. The provisions are fairly simple: any web site, online service, online application, or mobile application must allow underage users to delete their own data—or at least be easily able to request that it be removed.
There are two substantial caveats. One, as SFGate points out, Senate Bill 568 doesn't require the internet provider or service company to delete information from its internal servers, but rather to prevent other users from accessing whatever data a minor has asked them to remove. Two, the provision also specifically doesn't apply to information that third-party users have copied, shared, and/or rehosted. So if a kid posted a photo and someone else downloaded the image or took a screenshot and reposted the picture, this law doesn't apply. (Site operators will also be obligated to alert kids of this fact.)
Those are two big exceptions, and since most sites allow users to delete information themselves, it's fair to wonder what this law will actually change. But if you read the legislation's text carefully, posted in full here, the law is written as a protection for minors, something to ensure that underage people have a means to remove anything they've posted, from the source, no questions asked. Something that before this, apparently didn't exist officially in California.
"As a youth, you make a bunch of mistakes," said Alicia Cabral, 17. "If you put it on the Internet, it follows you everywhere."
Her friend, 15-year-old Diana Cortez, added that caution is still in order.
Even if you make sure not to post photos of yourself, you can't stop your friends from doing so, she said. "If you use drugs and there are pictures of you doing that and you apply for a job, you won't get hired."
SB 568 takes effect January 1, 2015.
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