New Maine Predatory Marketing Law Takes Effect in September

Governor John Baldacci of Maine recently signed LD 1183, a bill that severely restricts the collection and use of personal or health-related information from minors.  The law prohibits marketers from knowingly collecting, receiving or using personal or health-related information without obtaining verifiable parental consent.  Additionally, even with verifiable parental consent, the law still prohibits the use of personal or health-related information regarding a minor in the marketing of products or services or in promoting a course of action to a minor. 

Therefore, the Maine government is stating that the public interest is so strong in this area that it supervenes any views parents may have as to marketing to their children.  This legislation clearly goes way beyond the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which only dealt with children 13 years old or younger and allows parents to control how personally identifiable data of their children will be used in the marketing area. 

This bill would seemingly cut off "minors," an undefined term in the law which we assume to mean those under 18 years old, from being marketed to about colleges and universities, testing services such as the SAT and ACT, test prep services, class rings, among many other potential categories.  The law contains a bounty hunter provision including a private right of action with injunctive relief and recovery of actual damages for each violation, and allows for civil fines over $20,000 for repeat offenses.

The bill's sponsor was Senator Elizabeth Schneider (D-Orono).  It takes effect 90 days after adjournment, which occurred on June 13.  The Maine legislature reconvenes on January 6, 2010.  ANA intends to work to try to either have the law abrogated or modified so that it will not continue to place such extraordinarily broad restrictions on marketers, when the legislature reconvenes. 

If you have any questions, or suggestions on how to pursue this matter, you can reach Dan Jaffe in ANA's Washington office at 202-296-2359 or at djaffe@ana.net.