NEWS16 September 2009

CMOR urges caution over Maine data-handling law

Legal North America

US— Industry lobbyist CMOR is urging researchers to check that their data sets and research plans comply with a new law in Maine that prohibits the sale or transfer of personal data about state residents under the age of 18.

CMOR, which is part of the Marketing Research Association, warns that the law could affect any research organisation, no matter where they are located, if they collect, analyse or store data on young Maine residents.

The law applies to health-related or personal information about a minor if it is personally identifiable, was collected for marketing purposes without verifiable parental consent or will be used for so-called “predatory marketing” purposes.

LaToya Lang, counsel for CMOR, said: “Although the Maine Attorney General has said she will not enforce the law, any violator is still potentially open to private civil suits, including those sharing data between companies as part of the research process.”

CMOR says it is co-ordinating an effort to “fix” the law and to clear up some of the definitions contained within in a bid to protect the research process.

“The Maine legislature passed [the law] with last-minute unconsidered changes,” said Lang. “Even more troubling are the misconceptions of the law’s sponsor [Senator Elizabeth Schneider], who seems to have confused research with marketing in her statements to the media.”

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