‘Do Not Email’ Ban Takes Effect July 1

Gretchen Gallen
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH – A new law barring unsolicited commercial email to children will take effect in Michigan and Utah starting July 1, the U.S. Department of Labor announced.

The Children’s Protection Registry Act states that no person may send, cause to be sent, or conspire with a third party to send a communication to a registered email address, domain, fax number, wireless number, or instant message identifier that belongs to someone under the age of 18.

Similar to a “Do Not Call List,” the ban pertains only to email addresses that are registered with Michigan’s Department of Labor and Economic Growth, or Utah’s Division of Consumer Protection. The law protects those registrants from receiving unsolicited email content that advertises a product or service, provides a link to an advertisement, or contains material that is considered harmful to minors. The law specifically targets alcohol, tobacco, gambling, prescription drugs and adult material.

Violators could face steep fines and possible jail time, the law states, although Internet service providers that transmit email messages are exempt from liability.

Opponents of the new law, which includes the Electronic Frontier Foundation, are warning email companies to check their email lists against both state registries every month, or refrain from sending any message that even remotely falls under the terms outlined.

"I remain shocked that all the state email laws have not been struck down on Commerce Clause grounds," Brad Templeton, chairman of the board of the EFF, said.

Registrants must be registered for more than 30 days before the law protects them. Individuals can register any email address, fax number, wireless contact information, or instant message identifier to which a minor may have access. Schools and other child-focused organizations can register entire domains.

Registrants are required by the Departments of Labor in both states to provide their names, phone numbers, dates of birth, and mailing addresses with a registry limitation of up to 15 children.