New Michigan and Utah Child Protection registry laws

The Institute for Spam and Internet Public Policy (ISIPP) is warning today that two laws enacted last year are about to go into effect, and will affect all commercial emailers in the United States and beyond.

"It’s incredible," observed Anne P. Mitchell, President and CEO of the Intitute and a Professor of Internet Law at Lincoln Law School of San Jose, "these laws go into practical effect next week, and will affect nearly every commercial emailer out there, and nobody seems to know about it!"

The laws to which Mitchell refers are the new Michigan and Utah "Child Protection Registry" laws. Under the laws both states must, no later than July 1st, create and operate email address registries similar to currently-existing "do not call" lists. Individuals may place on the registries any email address "to which a minor may have access". Schools and other child-focused organizations may also register entire Internet domains.

Once an email address is on the registry, commercial emailers are prohibited from sending it anything containing advertising, or even just linking to advertising, for a product or service that a minor is otherwise legally prohibited from accessing, such as alcohol, tobacco, gambling, prescription drugs, or adult-rated material. This is the case even if the mailing was requested. In order to ensure that they don’t send unpermitted material to any email address on the registry, email senders are required to match their mailing lists against the registries on a monthly basis, for which they must pay both Michigan and Utah a per-email-address fee. Both laws were passed and enacted in 2004, and are mandated to take effect no later than July 1, 2005.

"The laws are very clear about this," explained Mitchell. "The Michigan law says ‘The registry shall be fully operational not later than July 1, 2005′. These registries are going into affect next week, and absolutely nobody realizes it. We’ve talked with several top tier email marketing firms, and email service providers, and they were all just stunned to learn that they need to start scrubbing their mailing lists against these registries next month or face criminal sanctions!"

Failure to comply with the new laws can lead to state-imposed penalties including "imprisonment for not more than 3 years or a fine of not more than $30,000.00, or both," and Internet service providers and individuals may also sue under the new laws.

Said Tom Kulzer, CEO of AWeber Communications, a leading commercial email auto-responder service, "Businesses should recognize that, right or wrong, these laws affect both solicited and unsolicited email."

ISIPP is offering an "information and compliance" teleseminar dealing with the new child protection registry laws on Thursday, July 7th, in an effort to help email marketers and other commercial email senders understand what they need to do in order to avoid running afoul of the new laws.

"The emailers we’ve talked with are very worried about this, and rightly so," observed Mitchell. "That’s why we’re offering the teleseminar next week, to explain these new laws and what one has to do, and not do, to be in compliance."

In addition to offering the teleseminar, ISIPP’s IADB Email Sender Accreditation Service is the only accreditation, or "reputation", service for email senders which identifies those email senders that are complying with the new Michigan and Utah laws. ISIPP’s IADB allows receiving email systems to check on an email sender’s credentials in real time including, now, whether they are complying with the new Child Protection Registry laws.

The Michigan law was sponsored by Senator Mike Bishop, whose office confirmed to ISIPP that the mandates of the law are indeed going forward. "While no law will conclusively solve the problem of spam or replace parents as the primary resource for teaching children right from wrong, Michigan’s Child Protection Registry will help make navigating the ever changing on-line world a little less worrisome for parents and a little bit safer for children," Bishop said. "I applaud all those who are helping us take this crucial first step of extending to the ‘digital world’ the same level of protection and comfort afforded to children and parents in the real world."

"It’s immaterial whether one agrees with these new laws or not," advises Mitchell, who teaches Internet Law to upper-division law students at Lincoln. "Unless and until these laws are ruled invalid by a court, an emailer has only two choices to avoid getting into legal trouble: scrub their mailing lists against these registries once a month, or be sure that every single piece of email they send contains not even a hint of a link which someone could follow and find any of these forbidden products or services."

"It doesn’t matter that these laws are coming out of left field for most emailers, or whether or not they are fair or make sense. They’re here, compliance is required, and failure to comply can result in criminal and civil penalties," Mitchell added.

Email senders interested in ISIPP’s July 7th teleseminar on "Child Protection Email Address Registry Compliance" can register at

Information about ISIPP’s IADB Email Senders Accreditation Program, which includes Child Protection Registry compliance notification, is available at

Inquiries can be made to

Press inquiries should be directed to

About the Institute for Spam and Internet Public Policy

The Institute for Spam and Internet Public Policy (ISIPP) is a privately held corporation headquartered in the heart of California’s Silicon Valley. ISIPP provides email accreditation for email senders, anti-spam technology for email receivers, and expert analysis and consulting services to legislators, governmental and regulatory agencies, industry leaders, and the press. For more information see For press inquiries contact or call 650-292-2198.

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