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Calif. Law Helps Youths Salvage Online Reputations

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Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation last week designed to give teenagers a little more control over their online identities. The law requires Internet firms, effective in 2015, to remove online material posted by a minor when he or she so requests. In theory, that means students in California can get a potentially job- or college-admissions-saving do-over.

"Kids so often self-reveal before they self-reflect," James Steyer, the founder of Common Sense Media, told the San Francisco Chronicle about the rationale for the law. "Mistakes can stay with teens for life, and their digital footprint can follow them wherever they go."

But there are some important exceptions in the new law. Most notably, the erasure requirement will not apply when the offending material is posted to the Web by someone other than the minor making the removal request. So a student can still be out of luck if someone else posts an embarrassing picture of him or her at a party.

Nor does the law cover adults who want to turn back the clock and remove something they posted when they were minors.

Vol. 33, Issue 06, Page 4

Published in Print: October 2, 2013, as Calif. Law Helps Youths Salvage Online Reputations
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