British teens may be able to delete embarrassing social media posts when they turn 18

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We've all made a few questionable choices as teenagers. Maybe it was that unfortunate body art or the embarrassingly angsty poetry that once would have remained safely in a notebook under a mattress. Or a photo of a sneaky underage drink that's online for the world to see thanks to that Instagram-trigger-happy friend.


The British government is considering laws that would give teenagers the option to delete or edit their online activity on any platform when they turn 18, the age they stop being a minor. The campaign is being driven by a group called iRights, headed up by filmmaker Beeban Kidran.

In a report released today, the group argues that kids need more control over their online legacy because they don't always see the potential consequences of documenting their lives on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

The campaign "seeks to make the digital world a more transparent and empowering place for children and young people (under 18) by delivering a universal framework of digital rights, in order that young people are able to access digital technologies creatively, knowledgeably and fearlessly," Kidran writes in the report.

This campaign comes a few months after 20-year-old Mhairi Black, England's youngest member of parliament in many centuries, was taunted in the press for her teenage tweets, including one from 2010 that read "maths is shite", according to The Independent.

Apart from giving 18-year-olds the ability to delete posts from their younger selves, the "framework of digital rights" includes education and support for young people to explore the internet while having resources to avoid harmful material and seek help if they are exposed to it.

Although it sounds broad, the legislation the British government is looking at doesn't go as far as a California law which came into effect in January called the "Eraser Law" making it compulsory for companies to allow minors to delete or edit their online activity whenever they want, from any website.


So far, California is the only U.S. state with a specific law like this. Delaware is considering legislation that's directly modeled on California's, but targets educational platform providers and gives schools the right to ask for deletions, not minors themselves. Nationally, the federal Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) restricts the data and personal information that companies can collect from children, but defines children as 13 and younger. But since California has set a new bar by including all under-18s in their protections, the Federal Trade Commission might re-consider their standards too, Law 360 writes.

Companies with young users in California are faced with the challenges of registering the age of all their users and providing a delete or edit option across the board, Venture Beat reports.