Maine Recommends Repeal of Controversial Privacy Law

Under mounting pressure that "An Act To Prevent Predatory Marketing Practices against Minors"—which was recently enacted and which became effective last month—was unconstitutional (both on free speech grounds and because it unduly restricted intestate commerce), a Maine legislative committee recommended that the new privacy law be repealed. The law would have placed restrictions on the collection and use of data of minors—effectively extending many provisions of COPPA to teens age 13 to 18—and requiring parental consent for the collection of any personal information. While concern still remains over sensitive data (e.g., medical- and health-related information), Maine appears to be poised to modify the original law to limit its applicability to health- and medical-related information of minors. 

Without belaboring the Constitutional arguments (preemption by federal law, unlawful restriction on interstate commerce beyond a state’s interest in protecting its citizens) the Act, if enforced, would have even restricted the rights of teenagers to receive certain information or to participate in social media and social networking activities. Opposition was unusually diverse—with the Center for Democracy & Technology. a civil liberties-focused organization, and the Maine Independent Colleges Association, joining the marketing-oriented Motion Picture Association of America and the Association of National Advertisers in objecting to the legislation.

Apparently in deference to the court cases that had been filed in opposition and the arguments made, Maine’s attorney general previously indicated she would not enforce the Act.

Privacy? Children’s Advertising? State vs. federal law? We can help sort out the confusion. Call me, Joseph I. Rosenbaum, or John Feldman or Douglas J. Wood, or the Rimon attorney with whom you regularly work.