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California Senate approves new protections for minors using Internet

INET Cyber Cafe in Westminster, which offers late-night internet connectivity and cyber gaming.
(Kevin P. Casey / Los Angeles Times)

SACRAMENTO -- Facebook and other social networking sites would have to abide by new protections for minors under a measure approved Friday by the Senate and sent to the governor.

The bill prohibits marketing certain products, including guns, bullets, dietary supplements and alcohol to minors, and bars the compiling of personal information provided by underage Internet users for marketing by third parties.

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Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) said his measure also would protect “the teenager who says something on the Internet that they regret five minutes later.”

“Under this bill, websites in California will have to have the ability for the young teenager to remove that [posting] before it is distributed to a third person,” Steinberg told his colleagues, who voted unanimously to approve SB 568.

The measure was opposed by the the Center for Democracy and Technology, a nonprofit group advocating for an open Internet.

The group said the measure is confusing and could result in minors having less access to the Internet.

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“We are principally concerned that this legal uncertainty for website operators will discourage them from developing content and services tailored to younger users, and will lead popular sites and services that may appeal to minors to prohibit minors from using their services,” the group said in a letter to lawmakers.

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patrick.mcgreevy@latimes.com

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