Parents May Get Control Over Kids’ Info Online

     (CN) – A bill intended to give parents the right to pull their children’s’ personal information off social networking sites has passed the California Senate.
     After a 23-10 vote, SB501, or the Social Networking Privacy Act, now moves to the Assembly, the lower house of the California Legislature.
     Personal information, such as driver’s licenses and Social Security numbers, are already subject to existing law in connection with commercial websites. SB501, however, would require a social networking website to remove “personal identifying” information within 96 hours following a request for removal, including for minors under the age of 18 at the request of a parent or legal guardian.
     The bill, introduced by Sen. Ellen Corbett, D-Hayward, also carries civil penalties not to exceed $10,000 “for each willful and knowing violation of these provisions.”
     Sponsors say it would not supersede state or federal law that otherwise requires social networking websites to maintain the information.
     Social networking sites are not thrilled over the legislation, with companies like Facebook and Google reportedly banding together to write lawmakers a letter that described the bill as “unnecessary” and “burdensome.”
     “This law would be extremely burdensome for startup social networking sites that lack the resources to process such requests,” the letter stated, according to several news sites.
     The Trevor Project, a gay rights group, warned the bill could “prevent young people from accessing support services if they face family rejection. The project is a West Hollywood-based crisis center that helps lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth by providing a social networking community,” the Associated Press reported.
     Corbett said, however, the bill does not infringe upon, or otherwise attempt to regulate, free speech. It simply protects both adults and children from stalkers and identity theft by making it easier to remove private information.
     “This information should not be available and posted on the Internet,” Corbett reportedly said before the Senate’s vote. “It would allow stalkers to know where an adult or child physically is living and even provide a direct opportunity for a criminal to commit identity theft.”
     The bill is supported by law enforcement groups such as the California State Sheriff’s Association and the Peace Officers Research Association of California.

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