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Are minors protected from posting questionable content?

When you were fourteen years old, you contributed to an online forum. You made several inappropriate comments that seemed funny at the time. But now you are seventeen and applying to college. Colleges will not like what they see if they search your name online. Are you able to remove the content you posted online when you were fourteen?

Children's Online Privacy Protection Act

Minors are not held to the same accountability standards as adults in most areas of the law. Children make mistakes, and the penal community wants to help youth amend poor behavior, not destroy a minor's future for it. To help children navigate the complex internet world, the government passed the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) in 1998.

COPPA only applies to children under the age of 13. It allows parents to control what information websites obtain from their children, and allows parents to review their children's online information so they can modify or remove it. Children under the age of 13 can have their online content modified or deleted at their parent's discretion.

However, teens are some of the leading users of the internet. They are still developing, making mistakes and are minors under the law, yet COPPA's protection does not include them. What happens if you are over the age of 13?

California's "Online Eraser" law

In 2015, California addressed the problem of teen online mistakes with an "Online Eraser" law. This law allows those under the age of 18 to demand that a website deletes content that they posted. There are exceptions to this forced removal, but the overall intent is clear: protect minors from youthful, thoughtless decisions. Give minors a second chance, and do not allow a moment's poor judgment to haunt them for the rest of their lives.

The "Online Eraser" law is a California state law, and does not apply to Ohio. Maybe other states will develop their own internet laws to protect minors in the future, but for now let's examine how Ohio minors can protect themselves.

Online content removal

All online users are able to petition a website to remove their posted content. However, removing content can be a difficult process, and a website does not have to listen to your request.

If the website refuses to remove your content, you will need to file a lawsuit against them. They do not have to remove the content until you secure a court order demanding that the site deletes your content.

Filing a lawsuit is a difficult process, and should be handled be a legal professional. Do not let a moment of thoughtlessness put your future education or career prospects at risk. If you need help removing online information, contact an attorney who can help you through the process.

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