back to article Online minor marketing law marked web's 'worst'

A US law stopping online firms selling to minors has made number-one in a top-ten list of "the worst internet laws in America". The law in question is 10 MRSA c.1055 and was passed by the Maine legislature at the end of its session this June. This local legislation has gone to the top of a debut list of the web's worst …


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  1. Andy Dent 2
    Thumb Down

    Law bans marketing, not sales?

    I haven't taken the time to look at the original legislation but as quoted in your report, it doesn't say they can't sell, just that they can't hang onto information for marketing.

    I also wonder about this ambiguity:

    "knowingly collect or receive health-related information or personal information for marketing purposes"

    I can read that statement as:

    a) "(collect or receive health-related information) OR (collect or receive personal information for marketing purposes)"


    b) "(collect or receive health-related information or personal information) for marketing purposes"

    b) is solely about using information for marketing.

    a) is more serious as it stops them receiving health-related information for purposes such as advising on what drugs to buy, or not. That seems to lock out advisory services as well as sales.

    I'm not a lawyer, just a programmer who spends his life looking for subtle ambiguities in code...

  2. Peter Fox

    Worst!? - More like best!

    Why would anyone "collect" this sort of marketing information? HOW would they do that? "Hey little girl have a 'free' Foo (and I promise not to send more than100 spams a year or pass your details to anyone else except the people who pay for it).

    More power to the legislature. The idea that by accepting a free Foo some kid has contracted to receive spam or be groomed to purchase shonet-of-the-month is a nonsense that needs blowing out of the water ASAP.

  3. pucker_up


    Marketing to children and youth? Great idea...if you're a greedy corporation.

    If you have children, you know what a shocking amount of scheming and marketing that is aimed at a segment of our society that hasn't fully developed the capacity for critical thought.

    Save the brainwashing for adults...mostly it's still like shooting fish in a barrel.

  4. dunncha
    Thumb Up

    Worst? A good sound law in iMO

    A law which stop unscrupulous medical companies selling everything from snake oil to help your acne to cream to make your breasts grow.

    I and I would imagine any other parent can't really see a downside to this law. Being a kid is hard enough without having to wonder where to get your new sexual magnetism cream from.

    When i was a kid I told some guy to put toothpaste on his toddger as a sexual aid. He never spoke to me again. And for this reason I think the law sounds good. Protecting kids from meanies like me

  5. Cardare Anbraxas

    It's broad if they suggest "Marketing".

    "Marketing" these days could mean anything. Could mean _anything_ commercial, which includes just having the information on your services, they don't actually have to do anything with it.

    If you put ads on a site, you make money from personal information the second someone stumbles on your site, they don't have to register, and "knowingly" means that the user has registered and put an age (Which could also be fake too, but the webmaster doesn't know that). You gather information that could be used for marketing immediately such as IP addresses, browser, any loaded frameworks, engines or plugins, version of OS, screen resolution and many many more.

    This is a classic sign of government knowing bugger all about how IT works and what sort of information is gathered in general. As a non-profit webmaster myself, I hope this bill is thrown out (and preferably the people responsible sacked and prohibited from getting another job in government, unless they want to become a janitor).

    If "Marketing" in their context means "gathering information for the use of third-party advertisers to allow the serving company to profit from it" then yeah, thats good if they prohibit that, but this is government afterall. Government + IT = A mistake waiting to happen.

    Throw the bill. COPPA should also be thrown to the wolves until government makes it illegal for anyone to put a false age, but thats an attack on free speech then, and allowing webmasters to query a database for everyone living at a house and using best guess to see if someone is lying about their age using that IP address at any time is just silly too. That, and they'd just use proxies if they allowed that.

    I think there should be a law prohibiting any law which affects IT or Healthcare from passing without professionals and experienced IT consultants in both fields examining them all and giving the nod.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Banned for good reason!

    'In NetChoice's opinion, that prohibition is far too broad, as it would prevent companies from offering such reasonable services as "college information, test prep services, and class rings."'

    Yeah, right! More like store your details for life starting with as young as possible. Then in the mean time target you with trick you will not be able to understand for many years to come.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Online marketing proponents think laws making it harder for them to sell to children are bad.

    On a related note, the Burglars' Association have published a report identifying the house alarm as one of the worst inventions of the modern age. The Association's spokesperson Mr S. Neaktheif said that alarms made it much harder for their members to do their jobs, "they are overkill, a sledgehammer to crack a nut" he said. The Association recommends that house alarms should never be armed when a property is empty, as false alarms are a major cause of disputes between neighbours.

  8. Wark Kupo


    The problem is not about marketing to kids, it's about how do you even go about telling who is a kid from who isn't? Then you get sued for dropping cookies on some kid's machine. It's too broad.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    members include aol, ebay, yahoo, verisign, Ruperts newscorp.

    registered in washington - this wouldn't be some sort of lobby organisation would it?

  10. Efros
    Paris Hilton

    Class Rings

    Pah, they sell these gaudy pieces of ugly junk to gullible teens with pliant parents for exorbitant prices, I can live with Jostens discomfiture.

    Paris cos her ring is class.

  11. SmallYellowFuzzyDuck, how pweety!

    Waste of time anyway

    Minors don't own credit cards, so nothing to protect them against with regard to marketing.

  12. Blue eyed boy

    iAWFUL is awful?

    Then what about 10 MRSA c.1055? Avoid such acronyms like the plague.

  13. lukewarmdog

    College Rings

    Why wouldn't you buy them from your college. Like by actually turning up and speaking to someone? Same with health advice, surely it's better with your doctor in the room.

    Kids these days eh, can't get them off the Internet, can't groom them, can't kill them and now can't sell them stuff they can buy down the shops. Whatever next.

  14. Brett Brennan 1

    Would also prohibit

    iTunes, Amazon, Yahoo! and Google. As well as Facebook, YouTube, MySpace, USAToday, and The Register, since ALL of these use context adverts that are based on "collected information" that can be cross-referenced against other public data stores.

    Good for them! The only way to implement this will be to remove all internet connectivity from Maine - meaning both dial-up modems.

  15. The Indomitable Gall

    Re: It's broad if they suggest "Marketing".

    @ Cardare Anbraxas:

    " You gather information that could be used for marketing immediately such as IP addresses, browser, any loaded frameworks, engines or plugins, version of OS, screen resolution and many many more. "

    So tell me, Cardare (if that is your real name), is my browser version medical information in your world, or is it just considered "personal"?

  16. Efros
    Paris Hilton

    @Brett Brennan

    Erm I live in Maine and I'm on a 20Mb/s line, cant get a bus or a taxi, or indeed a decent curry but the broadband is pretty good. We even have lecktricity to run all this stuff. Unfortunately our legislature believes we are California, but with a population less than the Greater Glasgow area in a state slightly bigger than Scotland they are legislation heavy and thought light.

    Paris cos she's a lumberjack you know.

  17. The First Dave
    Dead Vulture


    This is certainly a badly-written law,

    but the basis of it seems fairly spot-on. I take it that iAWFUL have a vested interest in marketing?

  18. Spleen

    Lobbyists ahoy

    "a group representing trade associations, eCommerce businesses and online consumers"

    What? That's like a group claiming to represent wolves, eagles and sheep.

  19. Identity

    Simple tech wins again

    who finds the confluence of the Maine Revised Statutes Annotated (MRSA) and the dreaded Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) interesting?

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Personally, I think we ought to get the NHRA and the SPCA involved, too.

  21. Peter Mc Aulay

    Parental consent

    Not to mention that "getting consent" != "receives notice"!

  22. Anonymous Coward

    what a bunch - what a nerve

    Checking out the top 10 "worst net laws ever" @

    almost every one involves hitting their bottom line through taxes, or providing consumer protection.

    Truly heinous crimes indeed.

    "NetChoice is dedicated to fighting these attacks on core Internet principles."

    Core internet principles. My. Arse.

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