John O'Brien Oct. 15, 2009, 6:22pm
AUGUSTA, Maine (Legal Newsline) - A company unhappy with a new Maine predatory marketing law wants the state Legislature to repeal it and might have state Attorney General Janet Mills on its side.
NetChoice, one of several companies that filed a lawsuit challenging the law's constitutionality. In September, Mills announced she wouldn't enforce the law because it is too vague and because of its possible implications.
"If the Maine Predatory Marketing Law is allowed to stay on the books, a fear of unchecked litigation will harm the residents of Maine," Netchoice executive director Steve DelBianco.
"Everyone, from the U.S. District Court to the state attorney general, agrees that this law cannot stand as is."
NetChoice, the Maine Independent Colleges Association, Reed Elsevier, Inc., and the Maine Press Association filed their challenge in August, and U.S. District Judge John Woodcock Jr. filed a stipulated order of dismissal in September.
"The Attorney General has acknowledged her concerns over the substantial overbreadth of the statute and the implications of Chapter 230 on the exercise of First Amendment rights and accordingly has committed not to enforce it," the order says.
"She has also represented that the Legislature will be reconsidering the statute when it reconvenes."
The law's intention was to protect minors' sensitive medical information from marketers.
The plaintiffs claimed the law opened them up to class action lawsuits. The complaint said many businesses considered suspending operations in Maine because it is impossible to know if any information collected or used pertains to a minor in the state.
Standardized testing companies could not transfer information about minors to colleges, it added.
NetChoice, in a ranking of state laws it feels threaten a free and efficient Internet, picked Maine's predatory marketing law as the worst.
Reed Elsevier is a information provider that operates LexisNexis, which manages an archive of legal documents and news reports.
"Neither Reed Elsevier nor LexisNexis are companies that use health-related information to market to minors. However, the provisions of Chapter 230 are broad and overreaching, and these provisions would adversely impact on products furnished by LexisNexis for important societal benefits," the complaint said.
"The primary issue that concerns Reed Elsevier is the unconstitutional restriction that makes it illegal to sell, offer for sale or otherwise transfer to another person, personal information about a minor if that information individually identifies the minor.
"This unlawful provision applies regardless of how an entity acquired the data and regardless of the non-marketing lawful use for which the data are used."
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