For years, a lot of lip-service has been given to online privacy. Lawmakers have tried and failed to pass a universal online privacy bill; consumer watchdog organizations have highlighted why giant Internet companies, like Facebook and Google, aren’t actually that into privacy; interested parties released studies suggesting that Americans enjoy very little, if any, online privacy — though whether or not we care is still an unclear statistic.
Amidst all this hand-wringing, researching and futile state crafting, recently, California decided to stop wondering and passed a few state laws as a way to “try on” Internet privacy legislation. That’s right, despite being the paparazzi capitol of the world, California has the strictest online privacy laws of any state. And recently, the Eureka State decided to add a few more statutes aimed at protecting the private parts of its residents.
But the looming question remains: will these new California online privacy laws actually work? Moreover, do they go far enough?
New Teenage Law In California
Ever wish you could permanently expunge those not-so-flattering pics you unwisely posted after that, err, *successful* bar crawl? (#notcute, #notwise) How about the impolitic rant you posted five years ago, in the midst of a terrible mood, which now lives on in inglorious infamy, on the Internet. Well, if you’re under the age of 18 and live in the state of California, those dreams of Internet deletion are now a reality for you – kinda.
Recently signed by Governor Jerry Brown, the new California online privacy law is supposed to help unwise, over-sharing minors. The new statute allows tweens and teens to demand the removal of embarrassing or otherwise *stoopid* posts on the Internet.
Sounds great, right? Not so fast.
While the new law will be great for emotionally puerile, discretion averse youngins, the new California online privacy rule doesn’t say anything about pictures and opinions other people post. In other words, this statute will probably do very little to mitigate cyberbullying. (#cybberbullyingawarenessmonth)
Arguments For California’s New “Right To Be Forgotten” Privacy Law
Fans of California’s right to be forgotten law, for minors, explain their support simply: many tweens and teens have zero common sense, so it’s important to give them a grace period to wise up and delete self-injurious information from the Web. Or, as James Steyer of Common Sense Media succinctly stated, “Kids and teenagers often self-reveal before they self-reflect.”
Children’s advocates like Cynthia Larose of Privacy and Security Matters praise California’s new “minors’ right to be forgotten” law for more politically minded reasons. Larose optimistically, if a bit naively, credited the legislation for ensuring that “many more of our children could become president someday.”
Arguments Against California’s New “Right To Be Forgotten” Privacy Law
Too Much Information Needs To Be Collected And Then Stored For A Longer Period Of Time. What’s Up, Hackers.
Not everybody is thrilled about California’s new “right to be forgotten” online privacy law. Some groups warn that websites may now need to collect more information about each visitor, and store it for longer periods of time, in order to comply with the law – the worry being that more information collection and storage time gives way to more hacking opportunities and security breach possibilities. Moreover, the logistics of the new California online privacy law could create, at worst, conflicts, at best, redundancies, with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.
If You Give Kids An Inch, They’ll Take A Mile
Another group of opponents pose a behavior-based distaste for the statute: the new California online privacy law could incite kids to act crazier since they know they can delete without consequences.
If an adolescent will be encouraged or dissuaded from posting inappropriate material because of the law is yet to be seen.
What Happens To Info Other People Post About Minors? Does The Data Have To Be Deleted From Servers?
Regardless on your opinion about catalysts for bad behavior, California’s new online privacy law, which is aimed at minors, has other glaring logistical problems. For example:
- It doesn’t address content that isn’t self-posted. As such, the measure does not protect against cyberbullying or other forms of online harassment.
- The law is currently unclear about what happens if an image is copied to another site. Will the subsequent site also be forced to remove the content?
- Web companies are not required to remove the data from servers, so what’s the point?
Oh Yeah, The New Online Privacy Law Includes Language About Allowable Content For Mobile Marketing Ads and Offers Targeting Minors
Online privacy is not the only aspect of California’s new online privacy law. The statute also addresses mobile marketing standards. Specifically, it prohibits the marketing of tobacco, firearms and alcohol to minors via mobile marketing avenues. As such, mobile app makers and marketers will now have to figure out a way to determine visitors’ ages and adjust content offerings on the fly, accordingly.
Other California Online Privacy Laws
As stated earlier, California tackles privacy issues head-on. It was the first state to allow domestic violence victims to expunge certain public records, and more recently, legislators in the state amended an old law so that now Websites must disclose how they comply with do not track requests from users.
So Goes California, So Goes The Country (Hint: It’s Wise To Comply With California Online Privacy Standards, Even If You Don’t Live There)
One last warning: don’t think that you don’t have to pay attention to California’s online privacy law just because you don’t live in California? As Mali Friedmann reminded recently in the New York Times, “Often you need to comply with the most restrictive state as a practical matter because the Internet doesn’t really have state boundaries.”
Want to speak with a lawyer well-versed in online privacy law matters? Contact Kelly Warner Law at 1-866-570-8585 or e-mail founding partner, Aaron Kelly, directly at aaron at kellywarnerlaw dot com. We’re easy going like that.