Nov 072013
 November 7, 2013  Posted by  Laws, Online, Youth & Schools

Woodrow Hartzog has an opinion piece in the New Scientist about California’s new “online eraser law,” SB-568. The law gives minors under the age of 18 some limited rights to delete personal information that they had posted online or on a mobile app. The key word here is “limited,” as the right is not absolute.

Woody writes, in part:

Critics claim it is a toothless law because it is full of exceptions and its scope too limited to properly protect teenagers, for example by excluding re-posts. They also fear a disastrous effect on the social web, with broken conversation chains abounding (though many social media users have been able to delete posts for years without significant issues of this sort).

While the critics correctly identify the unclear language in the statute, they miss the point when they say it will be ineffective because it won’t remove the truly harmful “viral” information that gets widely shared on the internet.

What they fail to realise is that the modest protection offered by this eraser law is not a defect, it’s a feature. These limitations represent deference to free speech principles while giving users the option of erasing heaps of disclosures that no one found interesting enough to share.

Read more of his commentary here.

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