'Do Not E-Mail' Registries Percolate In Five States
The laws generally prohibit marketers from sending material considered harmful to minors to children's e-mail addresses. In Michigan and Utah, parents can submit their children's e-mail addresses to a registry, and then marketers of potentially inappropriate messages pay a fee to ensure that their e-mail lists don't contain any addresses on the registry.
Four marketing associations and two advocacy groups have filed friend of the court briefs in a lawsuit filed in November by The Free Speech Coalition, a trade organization representing members of the adult entertainment industry.
The organizations challenging Utah's law--the American Advertising Federation, American Association of Advertising Agencies, Association of National Advertisers, Inc., Email Service Provider Coalition, Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Center for Democracy & Technology--argue that state laws are pre-empted by the federal Can-Spam act.
They also argue that state laws such as Utah's impede interstate commerce, violate free speech rights, and are too vague about which types of e-mails are banned. For instance, the opponents argue, the law potentially encompasses e-mail ads for an event that is open to children but sponsored by a marketer such as a liquor company. They also maintain that creating a "Do Not E-Mail" registry potentially harms minors by generating a database of children's e-mail addresses. Should that directory fall into the wrong hands, it could be used to target children, rather than protect them.
But proponents of do not e-mail registries say they will prevent purveyors of pornography, alcohol, and cigarettes, among other material, from marketing to children.