A few days ago California passed a law which will let kids permanently erase all the stupid things they've posted online. I borrowed part of that from the headline of that accompanying story on Business Insider.
The law, which goes into effect January 1, 2015 requires "the operator of an Internet Web site, online service, online application, or mobile application to permit a minor who is a registered user of the operator's Internet Website, online service, online application, or mobile application, to remove, or to request and obtain removal of, content or information posted".
California state senator Darrell Steinberg is author of the new legislation and refers to it as "groundbreaking protection for our kids who often act impetuously with postings of ill-advised pictures or messages before they think through the consequences."
There are in fact two parts to the new legislation. One part which "prohibits Internet companies from marketing products to minors that are otherwise prohibited to be offered and sold to minors outside the Internet" as per Steinberg.
And the other part which has come to be known as the "Eraser Button Bill" or simply "Eraser Bill" which refers to the aforementioned permanently erasing of all prior indiscretions posted online via social media networks.
I am completely in favor of the first part of the bill and ANY bill which protects children but the "eraser" portion of the bill leaves me somewhat confused to say the least.
First off, as Tech Crunch writer Greg Ferenstein writes, "...as written, it appears to create a head-on collision between privacy law and the First Amendment. There are no clear rules on what will survive when a friend comments or interacts with a given piece of regrettable content that will inevitably end up being deleted."
Secondly, as he also mentions, not everything can be deleted - only something that the user uploads. So that means if someoene else posts something unflattering about you, you are powerless to remove it.
Then there's the reality that lies in the fact that nothing is ever truly deleted and removed from the online world, now is it? Of course it's not.
But to me the biggest problem, the most egregious takeaway I have from all this, is that it is essentially telling kids/teenagers that's ok to go forth and act like an idiot; to post naughty pictures; to behave poorly and share it all online without any fear of it causing harm to you in the future i.e. future employment.
Am I the only who believes there are kids out now right now knowing full well they can indeed act in any way they damn well want; post whatever they please and say whatever they want all safe and secure with the knowledge they have that Get Out Of Jail Free card in their pocket?
Oh wait, these are kids we're talking about, right? Surely they're not that methodical nor thought-out? They would never try and circumvent and use this law to their advantage, would they?
"Jimmy, why did you post that picture of yourself drinking a beer and smoking a cigarette? You're only 17, you'll never get into college now!"
"It's okay mom, I got the Eraser button law on my side. No one will ever know."
Do you really think kids/teenagers are going to take the time to learn all the nuances of the bill, like the one I mentioned previously about not being able to take down something someone else posts about you?
Or how bout the one that says the new law does not apply in the event someone copies something you post then remove? That person is not bound by the law and can do whatever they want with the offending content.
There so many loopholes in this law it's not funny.
But the point is kids and teenagers will only see headlines such as the one Business Insider. Here's the full headline: "New California Law Lets Kids Permanently Erase All The Stupid Things They've Posted Online"
And some of these same kids and teenagers will equate that to a Get Out Of Jail Free card and throw caution to the wind.
Who's with me?
Am I overreacting?
What do you think of the new law?
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