AAF Government Report

September 10, 2009

Clark Rector Jr., Executive Vice President – Government Affairs

Maine Privacy Law Challenge Dismissed

A federal judge dismissed a challenge to a Maine law which restricts gathering or publishing information about minors under the age of 18. The judge said he agreed with the parties that brought the challenge that the law was likely unconstitutional, but dismissed the challenge on the grounds that the state Attorney General does not intent to enforce the law. All of the parties involved consented to the dismissal. State lawmakers are expected to revise the measure next year.
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FCC Report Promises More Inquiry

At the end of August the Federal Communications Commission issued its report to Congress under the Child Safe Viewing Act. The report was primarily a compilation of information submitted to the Commission and neither drew any conclusions or made any policy recommendations. The report stated that the record “fails to address key questions central to a full understanding of how parental control technologies can best be used to protect children.” The Commission intends to issue a further Notice of Inquiry to address a wide range of questions, including:

  • "To what extent are parents aware of control technologies that currently exist?

  • Does awareness differ among media?

  • Are there reasons beyond awareness that prevent parents from using the technologies?  If so, what are they and do they differ among media?

Addressing advertising directly, the report stated:
Economic and technical issues surrounding the use of the V-chip to block inappropriate television commercials and embedded advertising warrant further study.The Commission intends to explore these and other issues in a forthcoming NOI. Moreover, with respect to the specific issue of embedded advertising, the Commission is currently conducting a proceeding examining the issue.

AAF has provided our views to the Commission on both the V-chip and embedded advertising issues.  Those comments can be found here and here.
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Privacy Promised as Fall Issue

A group of ten consumer and privacy organizations conducted a recent press conference calling upon Congress to enact legislation in response to perceived threats from online behavioral tracking and targeting. The Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet held hearings on the issue over the summer.hairman Rick Boucher, D-Va., has said that the committee will consider legislation in the fall. AAF has articulated our position on these issues in comments to the Federal Trade Commission.Those comments can be found here.
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Advertising Restrictions Challenged

R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company and a number of other plaintiffs have filed suit against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration alleging that the advertising restrictions in the recently enacted law giving the FDA authority over tobacco products and advertising violate the protections of free commercial speech found in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The law directs the FDA to enact regulations banning outdoor tobacco advertising within 1,000 feet of schools and playgrounds and requiring all tobacco advertising to be black text on a white background, except in magazines, newspapers or periodicals with adult readership of 85 percent or more or fewer than two million readers under the age of 18. AAF believes the law unconstitutionally restricts truthful commercial speech rights.
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