New California Law Will Affect Websites and Apps With Under-18 Users

Revisions made by California to its Online Privacy Protection Act are planned to take effect at the beginning of next year. These revisions, concerning the rights of minors, impact websites, applications, or online services (“Covered Services”) that either 1) are directed to or intended for an audience of minors, or 2) have actual knowledge that a minor is using the service, because the site/app/service collects date of birth from users. Therefore, even a site or app that directs itself towards adults is subject to these revisions where the site or app permits a user to identify as a minor and use the site or app (sites or apps that do not permit minor users are not subject). The revisions cover two new requirements for Covered Services: 1) They must offer a “delete button” function to minor users, permitting them to remove, or request to have removed, content that they have posted to the service. The Covered Service’s privacy policy must explain how the minor can remove or request to have removed their content, along with an explanation that removal does not ensure complete removal of the content, where, for example, the content was posted or re-posted by someone other than the minor, or where the minor was paid for the content. A Covered Service can also comply with the law by anonymizing the content, or by rendering it invisible to users. 2) They must refrain from advertising adult products, such as alcohol, tobacco, and firearms, to minors, and also must refrain from collecting, using, or disclosing minors’ personal information for such advertising, or allow others to do so. The law applies to all sites, apps, and online services that have California users, regardless of where the operator of the site or service is located, so if your site or service is directed to an audience in California, or is otherwise useable by users in California, you will need to make sure that your site or service complies with these new requirements if your site or service is intended for or can be used by users who identify themselves (through, for example, date of birth) as minors.

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