Citing constitutional challenges, a Maine legislative committee voted on March 11, 2010, to repeal the state’s Act to Prevent Predatory Marketing Practices Against Minors.
The law, which went into effect on September 12, 2009, prohibited companies from knowingly gathering personal information of those under 18 without parental consent.
After the law was enacted, a group of plaintiffs – the Maine Independent Colleges Association, Maine Press Association, Reed Elsevier, and NetChoice – filed suit challenging its constitutionality.
Maine Attorney General Janet Mills agreed not to enforce the law, and the plaintiffs agreed to dismiss the suit.
In January, state senator Elizabeth Schneider, who sponsored the original legislation, proposed a new bill with similar intent but that was narrower in scope.
The Act to Protect Minors from Pharmaceutical Marketing Practices focused only on pharmaceutical advertisements and would have banned companies from collecting personal information about minors on the Internet for the purposes of pharmaceutical marketing.
Last week, Schneider withdrew that law from consideration.
Opponents argued both laws violated the First Amendment and restricted interstate commerce, and even the second attempt at legislation had come under attack for its potential to chill online speech.
Why it matters: The vote to repeal and the withdrawal of the second attempt at legislation should be the death knell for Maine’s attempts at regulating marketing to minors. The full state legislature must still vote on the repeal, but given the constitutional concerns and the cost of fighting the inevitable challenges to the law, it seems unlikely that the legislature would keep it on the books.