Will the “Eraser Law” Help Protect Teenagers’ Reputations on the Internet?

A new state law in California is aimed at giving teenagers a new weapon to protect their internet reputations. The so-called “eraser bill” has been signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown, and goes into effect on January 1, 2015.

Will California’s new Eraser Law help protect the internet reputations of teens?

The new law will give underage Californians the right to remove negative posts and other content, including videos, pictures, comments, and other material posted or stored on social media, web sites, or apps. Sites will be required to let teens either take down personal content themselves, or set up a mechanism for them to request that it be removed.

Teen Reputation Online

Proponents are hailing the new law as a victory for Internet privacy and for reputation protection. Its detractors, however, argue that the law will place too much of a burden on websites by forcing them to develop different policies for different states.

The measure, dubbed the “eraser bill,” is the first of its kind in the United States, and is seen as an enhancement of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. That act is a federal law restricting the collection of personal data from children under thirteen.

Supporters of California’s new “eraser law” insist it will put privacy back in the hands of minors and parents, and not in the hands of a tech company. Opponents counter that big social media sites, such as Facebook, already have ways for users to remove content, no matter their age. They says it could also lead to an assortment of state laws that would be difficult for technology companies to keep up with.

James Steyer, who heads a San Francisco-based group that promotes responsible online use, conceded that the law’s opponents have a reasonable point. But he defended the law, saying he hopes it will prompt lawmakers in Washington to pass a federal law addressing the issue.

“minors deserve the right to remove negative internet posts”

California State lawmaker Darrell Steinberg, who sponsored the bill, called the new law groundbreaking. He added that minors deserve the right to remove negative internet posts that could haunt them for years to come.

The California law comes in the wake of a series of documented cases of online abuse and bullying. Some of these cases have led to tragic results, including the suicides of underage users who were unable to control negative social media content.

The “eraser bill” was part of a larger measure aimed at protection children from certain types of online marketing, including advertising for guns, alcohol and other products that minors are prohibited from buying