This post was also written by Joshua B. Marker and Paul Cho.
One of the bills we have been following since May has recently cleared the governor’s desk and been signed into law. SB 568, now popularly known as the “Eraser Button” law, adds two significant, privacy-related requirements for operators of websites, online services, and mobile apps directed toward users under the age of 18. More specifically, this law applies to operators whose products and services are directed toward minors (defined as under age 18), and those who have actual knowledge that their products and services are being used by minors. Unless an exception to the new law applies, these operators will be required by law to: (1) notify minors of their right to remove posted content (whether on their own or by the operator upon request), and (2) provide instructions on how to do so.
The new law also prevents certain operators from marketing or advertising prohibited items (alcoholic beverages, firearms or handguns, dangerous fireworks, etc.) to minors. Additionally, operators who fall within the scope of the new law will be prevented from providing the personal information of minors to third parties for the purpose of marketing or advertising prohibited items. Finally, operators with products and services directed toward minors will also be required to provide notice to any third-party advertising services, who will face the same restrictions as to what they can advertise through that particular operator.
The new law applies to operators of websites, online services, and mobile apps everywhere, as long as their website, product, or service is visited or used by a California resident. It goes into effect January 1, 2015. While there is no specific private cause of action or statutory penalty set forth in the bill, violations will likely be enforced in civil lawsuits by the government and private parties under California’s unfair competition law.
Thus, anyone who operates a website or mobile application that reaches California residents should answer the questions listed in the attached flow chart to determine whether this new law applies to them, and to what extent. Also included in the attachment is a list of what needs to be done to comply with the law.