The Battle to Protect Adolescent Privacy Online–Maine’s new law and beyond

Online marketers–including Time Warner’s AOL–are up in arms over a new state of Maine law that is designed to protect adolescent privacy online.  We won’t get into the specifics of Maine’s new law at the moment (but heard some online advertisers are especially fearful of the “private right of action” in the law, which could bring citizen lawsuits).  But we know its sponsors are among the growing number of advocates, health professionals, consumer groups and parents that want to see teenage privacy respected.  Digital marketing techniques are being used to target teens, including the gathering of data for behavioral profiling.   Groups have already asked the FTC and Congress to address this problem.

Responsible marketers should support new safeguards that respect teen privacy. There are also a variety of consumer protection issues connected to online advertising that need to be addressed.  We expect this issue will be fought out at the state, federal and international level.  My CDD will be continuing its work bringing unfair marketing practices targeting adolescents before the FTC and other regulators.

Author: jeff

Jeff Chester is executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy. A former journalist and filmmaker, Jeff's book on U.S. electronic media politics, entitled "Digital Destiny: New Media and the Future of Democracy" was published by The New Press in January 2007. He is now working on a new book about interactive advertising and the public interest.

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