Under New Federal Law, Disney Can No Longer Market to Kids

in Disney, Entertainment, Movies & TV

A girl in a red dress happily kisses Mickey Mouse on the nose at Disney, with other visitors and the castle blurred in the background.

Credit: Disney

There is nothing in the United States Constitution that expressively gives citizens the right to privacy. Sure, the Fourth Amendment protects against illegal searches, but the Founding Fathers saw no need for privacy. When your closest neighbor lives miles down the road, all you had was privacy.

Credit: Disney

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Fast forward to the 21st Century, and social media platforms seem to guarantee no one has privacy. Users willingly sign over their data and personal information every time they sign one of those agreements to open a social media account or any online account, for that matter.

But what do social media, streaming, and online retailers do with all of the information they collect from users? They sell it to other companies, which create targeted advertising for everything in our lives.

After having decades to figure out a solution to this problem, especially when it comes to the data of minors, Congress has finally decided to step up with a new set of laws that will protect minors from social media platforms and streaming services selling their data, and it will also prevent companies from targeting ads directly to children.

Every time a child accesses your Disney+ account, Disney can create a profile of them based on the shows they watch over time. In effect, Disney understands your child’s likes and dislikes and how to create ads that will directly target them while watching those shows.

Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, and other Disney Characters walk down a sidewalk. Parents are visible shoving their children into the parade path to take photos and hug the characters.
Credit: @disney.bylilly via TikTok

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Disney can also use information from its apps to help create your child’s profile. Once they have made that profile, they can market a product to them to develop consumers for life.

Under the American Privacy Rights Act (APRA), which just came out of committee in the House of Representatives, companies would be required to treat all data from minors as “sensitive” and obtain permission from a parent before using it in any way. It would also ban targeted advertisements for children under the age of 17.

If this becomes law, it could dramatically impact how Disney uses the data it collects from kids and parents. It would also prevent them from those targeted ads aimed toward kids using their favorite Disney character.

Despite the noble intentions of the new law, it has some flaws. There is no clear understanding of what companies should do with this data once they can access it. It does not specify how advertisers or compliance officers will know if kids are the target audience of a particular ad.

Mickey Mouse with the Disney+ logo
Credit: Inside the Magic

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For example, how would compliance officers know if ads for Disney films are targeted toward adults or kids when every Disney movie targets both groups?

But fear not. The law is still in its early stages, and representatives of the social media industry will have their say before it becomes law. With that in mind, expect a watered-down version to become law eventually.

It could just be that this is a first attempt to protect our privacy from companies mining our data. Eventually, Congress will settle on something to keep our online lives safe. But until then, expect ads for the thing you just talked to your friends about or the service you mentioned on the phone.

It’s eerie, but it’s our reality.


in Disney, Entertainment, Movies & TV

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