On September 12, 2009, Maine’s Act to Prevent Predatory Marketing Practices Against Minors (the “Act”) will take effect. The Act prohibits businesses from knowingly collecting or receiving a minor’s health-related information or personal information for marketing purposes without first obtaining verifiable parental consent. Businesses are also prohibited from using any health-related information or personal information regarding a minor for the purpose of marketing a product or service to the minor. Pursuant to the Act, the use of information in such a manner is a predatory marketing practice, which may be sanctioned as an unfair trade practice. The law also allows individuals subject to unlawful data collection or predatory marketing practices to bring a private right of action against violators.
For businesses, the implications of Maine's new data collection and marketing restrictions are far-reaching. The scope of the law covers both online and off-line marketing activities, and the broad definition of personal information includes a minor’s name in combination with any information concerning the minor. In light of the Act’s restrictive requirements and considerable scope, businesses would be well-advised to evaluate their current marketing practices and age verification mechanisms. The text of the law is available here.