Start Date: July 2019

ID #: CAS053

Organization: Public Health Advocacy Institute, Inc.

Project Lead: Cara Wilking, JD

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Despite the evidence that breastfeeding is best for infants, expectant mothers and families with infants are bombarded with marketing for breast milk substitutes (BMS) in ever more intrusive ways via digital marketing techniques. The goal of this study is to conduct legal analysis and develop preliminary policy recommendations under United States law on the potential role of formal privacy regulation; private, contractual user agreements; and BMS industry self-regulation to protect consumers when they utilize social media platforms and otherwise generate personal data that can be harvested and sold to marketers for targeted BMS marketing. The policy analysis has three aims: Aim 1: Briefly summarize BMS marketing tactics and existing policies (or lack thereof) that have created the current BMS marketing environment; Aim 2: Conduct legal research and analysis to identify and describe policy approaches at the following levels: a) Formal privacy protections for expectant mothers under state or federal law to protect them from invasive BMS marketing; b) The potential use of contractual user agreements and company privacy policies to protect pregnancy-related data from being harvested and sold to marketers; and c) Voluntary industry action by the BMS industry akin to what the food industry has done for its marketing to children through the Children’s Advertising Review Unit and the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative; and Aim 3: Provide preliminary policy recommendations to address the issues identified.

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