New law bans advertisers targeting kids online

By June Shannon Policy News   |   23rd May 2018

New Data Protection Bill protects children from online marketing

23 May 2018

Ireland is set to become the first country in Europe to ban the online targeting of children by advertisers under the new Data Protection Bill which was passed by the Oireachtas last night.

Yesterday the Seanad accepted 105 amendments to the Bill including one supported by the Irish Heart Foundation which bans companies from microtargeting and profiling children online.

The amendment will mean that the individual targeting of children by junk food marketers using large amounts of personal information extracted from them by digital media platforms will no longer be permitted.

The individual targeting of children by junk food marketers will no longer be permitted


A 2016 study by the World Health Organisation found there was unequivocal evidence that childhood obesity was influenced by the marketing of unhealthy food and drink and that Governments should devise ways to “ensure that children participate in the digital world without being targeted by marketers with immersive, engaging, entertaining marketing that has been demonstrated to be injurious to their health”.

The Data Protection Bill was passed just ahead of this Friday’s May 25 deadline when the EU General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) come into force.

According to Ms Kathryn Reilly, Policy Manager with the Irish Heart Foundation, “Protecting children from online marketing in particular is crucial given the established link between junk food marketing to children and childhood obesity, which State-funded research estimates will result in the premature deaths of up to 85,000 of children on the island of Ireland.”

"Protecting children from online marketing in particular is crucial given the established link between junk food marketing to children and childhood obesity,"

Ms Kathryn Reilly, Policy Manager,, Irish Heart Foundation

Describing last night’s decision to accept and pass the amendments as “historic”, Ms Reilly said “By outlawing microtargeting of children, the Oireachtas is prohibiting the online commercialisation of children, which up to now has been permitted without any oversight. This amendment has successfully derailed the deliberate and targeted profiling of children by marketers,” said Ms Reilly.

“While online advertising of junk food and drinks to children will remain unregulated and therefore detrimental to children’s health, the marketers’ power to influence children will be significantly blunted by the banning of microtargeting which enables more personalised, effective and therefore potentially more damaging marketing,” she added.



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