Stephen S. Wu-- SL: Legal Writer,, (408) 573-5737, 50 W. San Fernando St., Ste. 750, San Jose, CA 95113

New California Law Will Change Video Game and Virtual Worlds Privacy Practices

This past week, on September 23, 2013, California Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 568, legislation enacted to protect minors online. The law is most famous for providing a so-called “Internet eraser” mechanism. The idea of this law is to give minors a chance to remove content that they regret posting later. The law also bars online services from advertising certain adult products, including alcohol, tobacco, and firearms. Click here for a copy of the new law.
Here are the highlights of SB 568--

Who is covered: Operators of web sites, online services, online applications, and mobile applications.

What covered operators have to do:
  • For minors that are registered users of their services, they must provide a way for minors to remove the content or information they themselves posted. Alternatively, they must remove content or information from their accounts upon request. This is the so-called “Internet eraser” right.
  • Provide notice to minors about this new right.
  • Give minors instructions on how to remove content or information.
  • Make t clear to minors that just because they remove content or information does not mean “complete or comprehensive” removal of the content or information from the service.
SB 568, however, has a number of exceptions. Removal is not required where:
  • Other applicable law at the federal or state level requires maintenance of the content or information.
  • The content or information was posted by someone other than the minor, including content stored, republished, reposted by a third party.
  • The content is anonymized.
  • The minor fails to follow instructions for proper removal.
  • The minor received compensation or other consideration for the content.
For covered operators of web sites, online services, online applications, and mobile applications, now is the time to take a look at their privacy and advertising practices. Services directed at minors should create an “Internet eraser” mechanism. They should also write a privacy notice to inform minors about this mechanism. Finally, they will need to ensure they do not advertise the adult products listed in the law. The new law becomes effective as of January 1, 2015.