From 2015 minors in California will obtain the “right to be forgotten”. It means they will be able to request that content is deleted from Facebook or other similar social networks.

Right to be forgotten to become law in California ©-ferkelraggae-Fotolia-Fotolia_31081868_XS
Right to be forgotten to become law in California ©-ferkelraggae-Fotolia-Fotolia_31081868_XS

Right to be forgotten

Under the new rules, websites and social networks will be required accept requests from minors to delete content. Operators will not be permitted to refuse requests.

Moreover website operators will be required to actively inform minors of their rights and how they can exercise them. They will also have to inform young users that while content is deleted, it may not disappear completely.

Not applicable in all cases

There are instances where website operators will not be permitted to delete content; under a court order for example.

Also, if measures are taken to make the content anonymous so that it can no longer be connected with the relevant minor, a website operator may choose not to delete the content.

Furthermore, the obligation on operators does not apply if the minor fails to abide by the relevant website’s rules following deletion, or when minors receive compensation in lieu of deletion.

More problematic is the exception under which website operators are not required to delete third party content. Minors’ interest in having content deleted can be particularly acute where a third party has published information.

Finally, the obligation to delete data encompasses merely the act of making the content invisible and not the deletion from a server.

European perspective

The right to be forgotten is disputed in Europe and is not currently regulated by specific legislative provision. Instead, the laws on privacy provide a framework for when personal data should be deleted.

Opponents of the right to be forgotten criticise that it is technically difficult or even impossible to implement.

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