Maine Repeals Controversial Online Marketing Law

March 15, 2010
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In an act that was cheered by many, the controversial online marketing law “An Act to Prevent Predatory Marketing Practices Against Minors” first introduced in 2009 by state senator Elizabeth Schneider has been repealed as of Thursday. The law had faced many uphill battles from the time of its introduction and even more with the inclusion of a narrower measure earlier this year, thus leading the Maine legislative committee to vote for the repeal.

The law originally prohibited collecting health-related information from minors without parental consent, and also the sale or transfer of that information that would identify said minor, no matter how the information was gathered. The narrower measure introduced earlier this year just prohibited the collection of data from minors to market prescription drugs to them. Schneider withdrew that measure after coming under fire for the possibility of making the state liable both legally and financially.

From the beginning the law had faced many challengers, most notably from NetChoice-a coalition of web companies

In an act that was cheered by many, the controversial online marketing law “An Act to Prevent Predatory Marketing Practices Against Minors” first introduced in 2009 by state senator Elizabeth Schneider has been repealed as of Thursday. The law had faced many uphill battles from the time of its introduction and even more with the inclusion of a narrower measure earlier this year, thus leading the Maine legislative committee to vote for the repeal.

The law originally prohibited collecting health-related information from minors without parental consent, and also the sale or transfer of that information that would identify said minor, no matter how the information was gathered. The narrower measure introduced earlier this year just prohibited the collection of data from minors to market prescription drugs to them. Schneider withdrew that measure after coming under fire for the possibility of making the state liable both legally and financially.

From the beginning the law had faced many challengers, most notably from NetChoice-a coalition of web companies, namely Yahoo and AOL. The challengers pointed out that the law violated not only the First Amendment but also restricted free commerce. Other possible problems would be the prohibiting of newspapers from publishing information about minors, possibly prohibiting teens from receiving information and also preventing teens from registering for social networking services.

The Center for Democracy and Technology, a digital rights group, also argued that the narrower measures could hinder web companies such as websites, email services and social networking sites because their platforms are supported by advertising and the collection of information from users.With the repeal of this controversial law it will be interesting to see what the next step is in the complicated business of online marketing laws.


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