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California 'eraser bill' lets teens remove digital skeletons

Starting in 2015, a new California law will require websites to provide a delete button for minors to remove posts or photos that they may later regret.

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California's new 'eraser law' will allow teens to remove online postings starting in 2015.

AP Photo/Andy Wong

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California teenagers, who post photographs of themselves wearing too little clothing or having had too much to drink, will have the legal right to erase their online indiscretions under newly enacted first-in-the-nation legislation.

The so-called 'eraser bill,' which Democratic Governor Jerry Brown signed into law on Monday, will require social media websites to allow California children under age 18 to remove their own postings as of January 2015, even as top sites already allow users to delete their own posts.

The law forces companies to provide a way for minors to delete digital skeletons - rants, postings and pictures that could harm their reputations, their chances of getting into college, and their employment opportunities.

James Steyer, chief executive of Common Sense Media, a San Francisco group that pushed for the measure, called it a milestone and "a really important step forward in the discussion of kids and teen privacy....

"Kids and teens deserve the right to make mistakes without penalties for their entire lives," Steyer told Reuters. "This is the beginning of the reframing of the privacy issue when it comes to kids and teens, to let them control their own information and correct their mistakes."

While mainstream sites like Facebook and Twitter already allow users to delete posts, the law requires all social media sites to provide a delete button for minors.

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