Update on Michigan and Utah Registries
I wanted to follow up on my earlier post last week regarding the Michigan Children’s Protection Registry Act.
First piece of information is that as of November 16, 2005, the state of Michigan now expects compliance with their Michigan Children’s Protection Registry Act (2004 PA 241).
While there was a pause in Lansing for the past two weeks, likely due to an FTC issued letter which addressed fundamental problems with the registry, Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm has now signed the latest version of the act.
The legislation calls for the operation of an online child registry which contains email addresses and other contact information for minors. It allows individuals to register email addresses and other contact points, such as Instant Message, addresses and phone numbers, which belong to, are controlled by, or are accessible to minors.
Marketers are then prohibited from sending content to addresses on the registry that contains material related to anything illegal for minors to purchase, view, possess, participate in or otherwise receive. The law prohibits sending content to any contact point that has been registered for more than 30 days, if the primary purpose of the message is to “directly or indirectly, advertise or otherwise link to a message that advertises a product or service” that is covered.
Marketers who send email containing material that could be inappropriate for minors are expected to scrub their lists against the registry once per month.
Other notable elements of the Michigan law:
- Listed categories of prohibited content includes: Tobacco, Pornography, Illegal Drugs, and Gambling. The Michigan statute lists two additional categories – Lotteries and Firearms. This means that some marketers who do not have to comply with Utah, may have to for the Michigan registry.
- As with the Utah statute, there is a private right of action. The state of Michigan will likely target enforcement towards pornographic content violations in the immediate term. Still, any private citizen in Utah may bring suit against a sender for content received (even if it was requested) that falls into any of the listed categories.
- There is a fee for scrubbing against the Michigan registry. Checking addresses for Michigan will cost seven-tenths of a cent, or $7 CPM.
- There is ambiguity around the prohibited content and material. The Michigan law prohibits material other than the specifically listed categories including essentially anything that is illegal for minors to purchase or possess. This raises such ambiguous compliance scenarios as automobile advertising.
While there is a lot more that can be discussed regarding this law, the most important thing today for email marketers who may need to comply to understand is that the registry is effective immediately.
We encourage anyone who potentially has to comply to discuss this with their legal and operations staffs and coordinate a compliance strategy.
These web pages for Utah and Michigan provide details on the language of the laws and the categories of marketers covered. They will also be updated with the latest information regarding compliance.
If you have any questions, or if you and your legal counsel would like to discuss further, please just let me know.
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About Tom Bartel
Tom Bartel is Return Path’s Senior Vice President of ThreatWave Data. Tom has more than 20 years of email delivery, email data and privacy experience. He most recently joined Return Path through its acquisition of ThreatWave, where he served as CEO/Co-founder. Prior to that, he has held roles at Return Path, MessageMedia (acquired by DoubleClick), and founded several other startups. Tom is actively involved in key industry organizations, such as OTA and M3AAWG, and advises start-ups and non-profits. Tom has a Bachelor in Speech Communication from Colorado State University.