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