About a month after the bill was enacted, the judiciary committee of the Maine legislature voted to repeal a privacy law aimed at protecting minors after several advertising and technology groups challenged its constitutionality.
On Friday, the committee sided with a plethora of industry and civil rights organizations in killing the act, arguing that not only did the law bypass federal First Amendment rights, it also negatively affected interstate commerce.
“An Act to Prevent Predatory Marketing Practices Against Minors,” which disallowed companies from knowingly gathering personal or health-related information of minors without parental consent, went into effect on Sept. 12, much to the chagrin of groups such as the Association of National Advertisers and online industry advocate NetChoice — whose members include eBay, Yahoo! and AOL among many others.
While the bill initially passed without opposition, it was met with resistance at the courthouse by the Maine Independent Colleges Association, Maine Press Association, Reed Elsevier and NetChoice. The suit was dismissed by a U.S. district court judge after Maine Attorney General Janet Mills said she would not enforce the law; however, the judge commented in his dismissal that he doubted the laws constitutionality.
While industry advocates can claim victory in this round, they’d be foolish to let their guard down just yet. With the judiciary committee’s repeal came a recommendation that legislators draft a more limited bill addressing the collection of minors’ health-related information in particular.