Brown OKs bill allowing minors to delete embarrassing Web posts

SACRAMENTO — Gov. Jerry Brown approved a new law Monday giving young people the ability to remove embarrassing information they post on Internet social networking sites.

California is now the first state in the nation to require websites such as Facebook to give minors a way to take down photos and other posts from their sites, according to Common Sense Media, a nonprofit group that promotes children’s privacy in digital media and tracks federal and state legislation on the issue.

The group supported the measure, which also bans website operators from marketing certain goods, such as guns, bullets and dietary products, to Internet users younger than 18.

Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) said his measure offered “a groundbreaking protection for our kids who often act impetuously with postings of ill-advised pictures or messages before they think through the consequences.”

Minors, he said, “deserve the right to remove this material that could haunt them for years to come.”


The bill also prohibits firms from targeting minors with Web advertisements for harmful products that are illegal for them to use, such as alcohol, tobacco and guns.

The measure was opposed by the Center for Democracy & Technology, a nonprofit that promotes Internet freedom and accessibility.

Emma Llanso, policy counsel for the group, said the bill, SB 568, was “motivated by the best of intentions” but could cause confusion among website operators.

“If the sites are unclear whether they are covered under the scope of the bill, the response could be to bar minors from the sites entirely,” Llanso said.

Technological advances are behind another proposal the governor signed Monday. That legislation outlaws the use of ticket-buying software, or “bots,” that can purchase hundreds of the best seats to concerts and sporting events seconds after they go on sale online.

Assemblyman Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) said he introduced the bill because the bots give scalpers an unfair advantage in buying up tickets, which they can resell at a steep profit.

The new law, which takes effect Jan. 1, makes it a misdemeanor to use software to circumvent the security of ticket-selling websites to conduct mass purchases. Penalties are up to six months in jail and special civil fines of up to $2,500.

Supporters of the bill, AB 329, include Ticketmaster, which said in a statement: “This is an important step in combating nefarious scalping practices.”

Brown also signed a measure Monday requiring California drivers to provide 3 feet of space between their vehicle and bicyclists they pass on the roads — or to slow to a safe speed as they go by. The bill does not specify what speed that is.

The bill represents a partial victory for bicyclists who have lobbied for years for stricter safety measures in response to a large number of accidents involving cars and bicycles.

Brown vetoed a bill last year that also would have directed motorists to cross the double yellow line into opposing traffic lanes if safe to do so and necessary to provide a 3-foot buffer for cyclists.

The provision on crossing into other lanes was removed from this year’s bill, AB 1371, by Steven Bradford (D-Gardena).

Violation of the new law, when it takes effect next September, will be an infraction punishable by a base fine of $35. But court fees will make the penalty higher. Drivers who violate the new law and collide with a bicyclist causing injury face a fine of $220.