Irish Heart Foundation

May 16, 2018, 17:47
IHF welcomes Data Protection Bill amendment outlawing microtargeting of children by marketers
Press release… Wednesday May 16th
The Irish Heart Foundation (IHF) today (Wednesday) strongly welcomed an amendment to the Data Protection Bill making microtargeting of children by junk food marketers using data harvested by social media platforms a criminal offence.
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 IHF, which has vigorously highlighted how marketers have been using Cambridge Analytica-type microtargeting tactics to bombard children with junk food advertisements for years, said it was an historic decision which accepts the primacy of children’s health over commercial interests.
Said IHF policy manager Kathryn Reilly: “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.
“Whilst 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.”
We hope that the Seanad will now accept the amendment adopted in the Dail and that the Bill will be passed into law as quickly as possible.
Please contact Helena O’Donnell on 086 7744 883 to arrange media interviews
Notes to editors
The Irish Heart Foundation has led the fight against marketing of junk food to children in Ireland.  In 2016 we launched the ground-breaking research Who’s Feeding the Kids Online[1] highlighting the extent to which junk brands target children through digital media; in 2017 we launched the Stop Targeting Kids campaign[2] calling on government to regulate both online and broadcast media; in 2018 we challenged the introduction of the Department of Health’s Voluntary Code[3]; we have lobbied hard for the introduction of a Sugar and Sweetened Drinks Tax, which was introduced in May 2018.

[1] Who’s Feeding the Kids Online report 2016
[2] Stop Targeting Kids campaign
[3] Write your story here...