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California’s “Delete Button” Law Re: California Online Privacy Protection Act (CalOPPA)

Many retailers are familiar with the requirements of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which requires parental notice and verifiable consent before personal information is collected online from children under the age of 13. In addition, the California Online Privacy Protection Act (CalOPPA) currently requires websites and online services that collect personal information through the Internet about consumers in California to provide a privacy policy. Concerned that online advertising may be directed to minors who post embarrassing or ill-advised pictures or comments on the Internet before considering the consequences, California has added additional provisions specifically focused on minors to CalOPPA. 

The Law 

The new requirements, effective January 1, 2015, apply to all online operators—including websites, online services, and online or mobile apps—that either direct their services to minors or have actual knowledge that a minor is using their site or service. Unlike COPPA, which is limited to children under 13, the new California law applies to anyone under the age of 18. The law includes a number of requirements that may impact retailers. 

The new provisions will require a retailer to allow a minor who is a registered user of the retailer’s site or service to delete or request deletion of any content posted by the minor. In addition to providing this “delete button,” operators must provide minors with notice regarding the ability to delete online content and clear instructions on the process for doing so. 

Operators are also prohibited from marketing or advertising certain categories of products or services to minors. The law contains a long list of prohibited items. Many are obvious, such as alcohol and firearms, but the list also includes less-obvious categories, such as spray paint, certain dietary supplements, and tanning devices. 

Practical Advice 

Most of the discussion surrounding the new requirements has focused on the application of the “delete button” to social networking sites. However, retailers should consider how the law may apply to their own websites and online services. For example, to the extent that a retailer allows minors to register and provide product reviews or comments, the retailer will need to comply with the new “delete button” requirements. In addition, retailers should note the restrictions on advertising and marketing to minors and ensure that they have policies and procedures in place to prevent such ads from appearing on their sites. California continues to be a hotbed of regulatory enforcement and class actions related to privacy, and we expect that these new requirements will generate similar attention. 

Copyright © 2022 by Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP. All Rights Reserved.National Law Review, Volume III, Number 289
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About this Author

Gregory Parks, privacy and cybersecurity lawyer, Morgan Lewis
Partner

Gregory T. Parks counsels and defends retail companies and other consumer facing clients in matters related to privacy and cybersecurity, class actions and Attorney General actions, consumer protection laws, loyalty and gift card programs, retail operations, payment mechanisms, product liability, waste management, shoplifting prevention, compliance, antitrust, and commercial disputes. If it is important to a retail company, Greg makes it his business to know it. He handles all phases of litigation, trial, and appeal work arising from these and other areas. Greg is the co...

215-963-5170
Anne Marie Estevez, labor and employment lawyer, Morgan Lewis
Partner

Anne Marie Estevez defends clients in complex, class, and collective action employment, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), public accessibility, and consumer class action cases in US federal and state court. Fluent in Spanish, she represents a broad range of US and international clients in employment and labor-based cases nationally, from wage and hour to discrimination to trade secrets litigation. Anne Marie also counsels employers nationally in these areas, negotiates high-level executive contracts and terminations, and handles due diligence for complex employment...

305.415.3330
Joseph Duffy, litigation attorney, Morgan Lewis
Partner

A nationally recognized litigator, Joseph Duffy defends class actions in US federal and state courts. As co-head of the litigation practice’s Retail Industry Initiative, he focuses on the unique challenges facing retail companies, representing retailers in consumer class actions, contract disputes, and compliance and privacy matters. He also litigates class actions for financial services companies involving lending practices, foreclosure activity, and debt collection. Joseph earned recognition as a Class Actions and Mass Torts “Powerhouse” in BTI’s Litigation Outlook...

213-612-7378
Ezra Church, Litigation Lawyer, Morgan Lewis
Partner

Ezra D. Church focuses his practice on class action lawsuits and complex commercial and product-related litigation, with particular emphasis on the unique issues facing retail, ecommerce, and other consumer-facing companies. Ezra also focuses on privacy and data security matters, and regularly advises and represents clients in connection with these issues.

215.963.5710
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