California has become the first state to pass a law giving people under the age of 18 the right to remove any information they have posted on a website. The law also restricts the website from selling your personal information.

The new law in California will take effect on January 1, 2015. The law applies to any mobile service or website if it has members under the age of 18 who are also residents of the State of California. Needless to say, this will span a large number of websites and mobile apps.

Content Removal Rights

Websites must allow minors to remove information or any content they have posted. For example, if you have a forum and a minor has posted on the forum, the minor should be allowed to delete the posts. If the minor has been banned from the site, the website owner must remove the content at the minor’s request.

This will be a minor inconvenience for some websites, but a major headache for others. A lot will depend on how the content of the website is managed. For some sites, removing content from the entire site will be as easy as pressing a button. Other sites will require laborious manual search and removal of content. For those sites, they will want to think twice about allowing minors to post and the ramifications if a minor user gets upset and then demands their content be removed.

Sale of personal information

California law will prohibit websites from using personal information about a minor to market certain categories of products. Initially, this will include firearms and alcohol, as expected, but also spray paint, tanning products, and certain dietary supplements. It is reasonable to expect that the list of prohibited items will continue to grow.

It is important to realize that this prohibition will override the website’s privacy policy. A website may not have a policy on the use of personal information to market these categories of products.

time to plan

The law was passed in 2013 and takes effect from 2015. This is to give website owners time to evaluate their website: who their users are, what content users can provide, how easy it is to remove content, what information is being sold, etc.

One issue will be to see whether or not your website is directed to minors and make the necessary changes.

The alleged ignorance of the age of a user will not be a defense. The law says that information like their profile, what they say in their posts, their location and address or identifying themselves as going to school will be enough to alert you that a minor is using your site.