Adult Site Claims No Communication Over Utah Registry Citation

Kat Khan
SALT LAKE CITY — A Canadian adult website that Utah officials say was cited for violating the state’s seven-month-old Child Protection Registry law is claiming it has received no communication from the state regarding the citation, though officials say notice of the citation was sent almost two weeks ago. has been cited for allegedly sending sexually explicit messages on Dec. 4 to email addresses listed in the registry as accessible to a minor, marking the first time the Utah Division of Consumer Protection has issued a fine under the new law.

The division’s Executive Director Francine Giani told XBiz that the state sent notice of the citation to the site’s owners about two weeks ago. She also confirmed that the site’s owners are being fined for multiple violations of the registry, with each violation totaling the maximum $2,500 fine.

There has been no communication between parties but the citation also has not come back [through the mail], Giani said. Under the statute, the site’s owners have 10 days to contest the citation. After that time period has passed, a cease-and-desist order can be filed.

“There’s no issue of jurisdiction but we do assume they will probably ignore the citation, at which point we’ll have to see where the attorney general wants to take it,” Giani told XBiz.

Free Speech Coalition Director Tom Hymes confirmed with XBiz this week that the site’s owners and operators are individual members of the FSC, though he could not say whether the site is listed in its database. Hymes also told XBiz that the site’s owners claim they have not received any communication from Utah officials regarding the citation and deny that they sent any email to an address on the registry list.

“All we have is an assertion by Utah that a claim has been filed,” Hymes said. “We are in contact with the site’s owners and we are monitoring the situation. However, they said they did not send the email in question.”

Hymes also told XBiz that the site’s owners had authorized one program to send emails that are product-related, though it is unknown whether the program was responsible for sending the email.

Under Utah law, adult-oriented websites and emailers are required to screen out registered addresses from their distribution lists. The FSC filed a complaint against the law in November, contending that it violates the right to free expression under the 1st Amendment and is unfairly burdensome, due to the time and cost involved.

Attorney Ira Rothken told XBiz that attorneys representing the FSC are not acting as official counsel for the site’s owners, who are still unidentified, listing only a P.O. Box in Gibsons, B.C. He added that the FSC is currently seeking a preliminary injunction against Utah’s registry law.

“We’re still investigating what happened and what led the state of Utah to file a claim against the site,” Rothken said. “But it might very well be that this site has a relationship with the FSC and if so, then it’s very likely they would be the beneficiaries of any action taken by the FSC, especially if we seek a preliminary injunction.”

The site offers an initial screen titled "Warning: Adult Material Ahead" and a statement that content "is not intended to be viewed by minors" can be cleared with the click of a mouse.

The site also includes an old logo for Adult Sites Advocating Child Protection. Previously, ASACP Director Joan Irvine told XBiz the site’s owners have not applied for membership with the organization, though she said the site appears to comply with the ASACP’s Best Practices, which only requires that sites label all email marketing material as “sexually explicit.” Irvine said the site would most likely be approved for membership, if it applied.

“Utah is not just creating an opt-out registry,” Rothken added. “It’s also creating a registry law and acting on it, which makes it even more imperative that we get a preliminary injunction.”