New Legislation To Protect Young People – The Eraser Law

erase pastBased on new legislation passed by the state of California, starting in 2015 young people will be able to delete materials – text content, photos, videos – they posted on Internet web sites with the Eraser Law.  But the irony of this is young people who want to delete unpleasant memories of youthful indiscretions can do this right now if they want to.  What is the value of such a law, and are other states likely to pass similar laws?

The law provides that information posted by an individual can be easily deleted.  However, if the questionable content is spread virally across the Internet by others, the law no longer applies.  And the Internet automatically archives virtually everything on the net, so does the law apply here?  It appears this piece of legislation is in fact useless, given the unique nature and nuances of the Internet.

So what’s the message here?  First, young people must be aware that anything they post on the Internet may be there forever.  No Eraser law is likely to be strong enough to delete all possible appearances of questionable or embarrassing content.  And that content could destroy their chances of a future job or other important opportunity.  Employers and organizations that conduct background checks spend a lot of time researching a candidate’s web site activities, especially on social media sites.  Even a law like SB 586 may be ineffective in deleting potentially damaging evidence. 

Second, parents must remind their children of the pros and cons – and especially the risks – of using the Internet.  As a research tool the Internet can be invaluable.  Conversely, as a social platform it can range from fun to destructive.  Laws may help, but the most important message is one of caution and care, specifically for young people to exercise care in what they post on the Internet.

In the end, it comes down to being social the old fashion way, talk to your children – an email won’t cut it.