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Is your mobile game or website complying with this new California law?

Game lawyer Zachary Strebeck discusses a new California that may apply to website and mobile app developers who direct their services toward minors.

Zachary Strebeck, Blogger

January 23, 2015

8 Min Read

On Sept. 23, 2013, California passed the Eraser Button law (S.B. 568), which just went into effect on Jan. 1, 2015.

The Eraser Button Law:

This law applies to any website, mobile application, online service or other online application that is either directed at minors or has knowledge that minors are using it. The new law requires these services to provide a mechanism by which minors can remove any information or content that they have posted on that service themselves (with a few exceptions).

Directed at minors?

According to the law, services that are “created for the purpose of reaching an audience that is predominately comprised of minors, and is not intended for a more general audience comprised of adults,” are those that qualify as “directed at minors.” However, just because a site or service links to a service that is directed at minors, this doesn’t in itself make the linking site also directed at minors.

To be sure whether or not your service qualifies under this law, I recommend contacting an attorney.

The steps that must be taken:

Four things are required of these services that qualify under the law:

  1. The service must notify those minor users that the service exists;

  2. The service must give those users clear directions on how to use the “eraser button” functionality;

  3. The service must provide the user with a way to either anonymize or delete any content that the user has posted on the service; and

  4. The service must include a disclaimer, which states that they cannot guarantee that the content is completely or comprehensively removed.

In addition to these four requirements, the law makes is illegal for these services to use advertising for various products that minors are not allowed to use. These include:

  • Guns and other firearms;

  • Ultraviolet tanning equipment; and

  • Tobacco products.

The exceptions:

There are two major exceptions to the types of content that can be removed:

  • Content that is required to be kept on the service by either state or federal law; and

  • Content that a minor was paid to post on the service.

What if you’re not based in California?

Well, if you’re directing your services to IP addresses and minors in California, you will have to comply with this law. Generally, a best practice is to comply with the most stringent law, whether it’s about privacy policies and other privacy issues, or about dealing with minors who use the service.

Failure to adhere to California law while allowing California residents to use the service could make you run afoul of the state of California. This may happen regardless of where the business or the web servers are actually located.

If you run a website, mobile app or other online service that you think may be covered under this law, why not contact an attorney? The attorney may be able to get your site in compliance. If you’re curious about other game development and content creation legal issues, grab a copy of my two FREE eBooks and checklists!

Special thanks to my cousin, photographer Carmine Sarazen, for the awesome photo of Malibu for this post. Check him out at his website if you’re looking for a photographer or want to purchase a print of the featured image!

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