Governor Signs Steinberg Bill Protecting Minors’ Privacy on the Internet

September 23, 2013

(Sacramento) - California has taken a major step today to protect our children with the Governor’s signing of SB 568, a measure that increases privacy protections for minors on the internet. Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg’s measure will allow children and adolescents under the age of 18 to remove their postings on internet and social media sites, and will prohibit the advertising of harmful products on websites specifically targeted to minors.

“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,” said Steinberg (D-Sacramento). “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 signing comes on the same day that Senator Steinberg joins with representatives of Facebook to help parents learn more about ways to keep their children and families safer while using social media. The Facebook Safety Program will be presented in conjunction with Sacramento City Unified School District from tonight at the Rosemont High School auditorium, 9594 Kiefer Boulevard, Sacramento from 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Minors are spending more time on-line than ever before. Also, a recent Kaplan study found that an increasing number of college admissions officers, more than one out of every four, check Google and Facebook as part of the application review process. A 2010 Wall Street Journal investigation found 30 percent more “cookies” and other tracking devices on the top 50 websites for children and teens when compared with general audience sites.

SB 568 will make California the first state in the nation to require website operators to allow persons under 18-years-old to remove their own postings on that website, and to clearly inform minors how to do so. The operator would not be required to erase that content which may have been re-posted by a third party before the author has removed it.

On websites that are specifically directed to minors, the bill also prohibits harmful advertising of products which would otherwise be illegal for minors to purchase such as firearms, alcohol and tobacco. This same advertising prohibition applies to general interest websites when the operator has actual knowledge that the user is under 18-years-old.

The provisions of SB 568 will become effective as of January 1, 2015. The measure is supported by Common Sense Media, Children NOW, Crime Victims United, the Child Abuse Prevention Center and the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence.

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