Online Advertising and Children: CARU, COPA & Ads Targeting Children

When advertising to children, especially children under 13, particular care should be taken. It is recommended that anyone advertising to children follow the Better Business Bureau’s Children’s Advertising Review Unit’s (“CARU”) rules and guidelines.

Children’s Advertising Review Unit’s (CARU)

The CARU guidelines provide, in small part, that advertisers need to examine the total advertising message to be certain that the net communication will not mislead or misinform children. Advertisers should avoid using extreme sales pressure in advertising presentations to children. Information that requires disclosure for legal or other reasons should be in language understandable by the child audience. Disclaimers and disclosures should be clearly worded, legible and prominent. Comparative claims should be based on real product advantages that are understandable to the child audience. These guidelines can be found at

Child Online Protection Act (COPA)

In Ashcroft v. ACLU, 535 U.S. 564 (2004); 124 S.Ct. 2783 (2004) the United States Supreme Court decided on March 2, 2004 to bar enforcement of the Child Online Protection Act otherwise known as COPA. COPA was enacted by Congress in 1998 to protect minors from exposure to sexually explicit materials on the Internet. In a 5 to 4 vote the Supreme Court agreed with a lower court’s decision that it was correct to block the law.

This and the following posts have been copied or adopted from A Legal Guide To The INTERNET – Sixth Edition, published through a collaborative effort by the Minnesota Department of Employment & Economic Development and Merchant & Gould.