National Institute on Media and the Family

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Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Press Release from Massachusetts State Representative Mike Festa:

Festa Sponsors Act to Protect Youth from Online Exploitation by Buzz Marketers

Bill Requires Parental Consent for Teenagers Who Participate in Internet Word-of-Mouth Marketing

State Representative Mike Festa, Vice Chair of the Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight, announced today his sponsorship of legislation aimed at protecting children from exploitation by youth marketers on the Internet.

The legislation will ensure that youth under the age of 16 who are recruited to participate in marketing campaigns, such as word-of-mouth promotions, can do so only with parental consent. Co-sponsoring the legislation are State Representatives Vincent A. Pedone (D-Worcester), Chair of the Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure and Shirley Owens-Hicks (D-Mattapan), Chair of the Committee on Children and Families.

“In an era when an unprecedented number of children are being recruited by marketers to participate in online advertising campaigns, we need to protect our youth from unwanted solicitations and ensure that marketing messages are age-appropriate,” noted Rep. Festa. “Doing so should require parental approval of all marketing practices and materials whenever children are employed by marketers.”

Rep. Festa said he was drawn to the issue after reading news accounts, including a December 5th New York Times Magazine cover story, that described the ways in which buzz marketing companies support deceptive practices among “agents,” including minors, who are employed to participate in their promotional campaigns. An Act to Regulate Certain Employment Practices in Connection with Children’s Marketing Activities requires marketers to obtain parental consent for children aged 16 or younger who are recruited to participate in a Sales Force Network, which includes word-of-mouth marketing efforts. The legislation was filed on March 21, 2005.

For more information, please contact Melissa Callan (617) 722-2210

Posted by NIMF Staff @ 8:35 AM

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