Steinberg Bill Protecting Minors’ Privacy Rights in the Digital World

April 29, 2013

Garners Unanimous Senate Support

(Sacramento)– With unanimous support, the California Senate today approved a measure by Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg to increase protections for children as they navigate through social media and on line. SB 568 strengthens the privacy rights of minors in the digital world by allowing them to remove inappropriate content they themselves have posted, and also protects minors from harmful marketing and advertising. The bill passed the Senate on a vote of 37 to zero.

“Those of us with teenagers know what this is about. Too often a teenager will post an inappropriate picture or statement that in the moment seems frivolous or fun, but that they later regret. While some social media sites already provide an “eraser button,” this bill ensures that minors can remove this content on any site before it’s sent out by a third party,” said Steinberg. “My measure also helps shield minors from inappropriate advertising. If someone under 18 can’t legally buy or use a product or service, they shouldn’t be targeted for it by online marketing.”

SB 568 requires all web sites, social media sites and apps to allow anyone under 18 to remove content they posted earlier. The site must also provide notice to minors that they may erase the information they posted. This bill also prohibits site operators from compiling, using or disclosing the personal information of minors for the purposes of marketing products or services that minors otherwise cannot legally purchase or use. Site operators would also be prohibited from displaying advertising for such products or services to a user they know to be under 18 years of age, or on sites directed to minors.

Under the existing Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), federal law provides privacy protections for children under the age of 13. Privacy protections are needed for teenagers as well, as their use of social media increases into their teen years. An estimated 80 percent of 13-year-olds actively use social media.

The advertising protections in SB 568 apply to sites directed toward minors or where a general audience site has actual knowledge that the user is under 18-years-old. The eraser component covers all minors on any site.

The bill now moves to the State Assembly for consideration.