Trade group releases new list of 'awful' Internet laws

A Maine law would require e-commerce sites to get parental approval before collecting minors' personal information

A Maine law that would require e-commerce vendors to get parental permission before collecting any personal information about teens and children is so broad that it could lead to lawsuits against vendors of many Internet services, according to the NetChoice trade group.

The Maine law, which goes into effect Sept. 12, could prevent any e-commerce sites, including those selling class rings and college test prep services, from collecting any personal information from minors without "verifiable parental consent," NetChoice said as it released a new list of "awful" Internet laws and legislation.

The law would effectively stop e-commerce sites from selling to teens and minors, with Web sites generally having no way to get parental consent, said Steve DelBianco, executive director of NetChoice, a trade group representing Yahoo, eBay, VeriSign and other Internet-related businesses.

The Internet is "increasingly under attack" by lawmakers and regulators, many of whom want to increase revenue by taxing Internet services, he said.

The Maine legislation started as a way to protect minors from having their health information collected without parental consent, DelBianco said. But the law now says it's illegal for anyone to "knowingly collect or receive health-related information or personal information" for marketing purposes from a minor without getting parental consent. The law includes a minor's name and address as personal information that cannot be collected without parental consent

In addition, the law allows private lawsuits against e-commerce sites that do not get parental consent. There's some question about whether the Maine attorney general's office will actively enforce the law, but there's no way to stop private lawsuits, DelBianco added. "This is a major concern for Internet companies that have some teens from Maine using their sites," he said.

NetChoice is working with companies trying to get an injunction against the Maine law going into effect, DelBianco said.

Maine State Senator Elizabeth Schneider, a Penobscot County Democrat and a sponsor of the Maine law, didn't immediately return an e-mail seeking comment. A spokeswoman for Maine Attorney General Janet Mills didn't have an immediate comment on the law's inclusion on the NetChoice iAWFUL (the Internet Advocates' Watchlist for Ugly Laws) list.

NetChoice released its first iAWFUL list in June, but the Maine law was introduced and passed since then. "State regulators and legislatures don't take a long enough summer vacation," DelBianco said.

Also among the items new to this second version of the list:

-- An ordinance in New York City that would tax service fees charged by online travel-booking sites and travel agents, in addition to taxing hotel rooms. The additional tax would force online travel-booking sites to collect taxes for the first time, DelBianco said. Other jurisdictions are considering similar taxes. "This would drag these online travel services into the business of filing tax returns in every city where they book a room," he said.

-- The revenue departments in the states of Colorado and Washington have recently ruled that delivery of online goods can be taxed. In Colorado, sites that charge users to download documents could have that service taxed, and in Washington, a wide range of digital goods could be taxed, including advertising, according to NetChoice.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags e-tax

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Grant Gross

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?