Parents Can Sign up Kids to Not Get E-Mail

By KATHY BARKS HOFFMAN, Associated Press Writer

Starting Friday, parents can sign up for what Michigan officials say is the nation's first registry aimed at keeping spammers from sending children inappropriate e-mail. The new law bans sending messages to children related to such things as pornography, illegal or prescription drugs, alcohol, tobacco, gambling, firearms or fireworks. Parents and schools will be able to register children's e-mail addresses.

"From my perspective as a parent, I'm horrified by what comes in" to her three children's e-mail accounts, Gov. Jennifer Granholm said during a news conference Thursday. "This will put an end, we hope, to inappropriate e-mail getting to our children."

Signing up for the registry is free, and parents soon will be able to add their children's instant message IDs, mobile phone numbers, fax numbers and pager numbers.

E-mail senders must comply with the new law by Aug. 1. Violators face up to three years in jail or fines up to $30,000 if convicted of breaking the law, and could face civil penalties of up to $5,000 per message sent.

Some Internet safety experts have said anti-spam laws have been difficult to enforce and others worry the lists will give hackers a way to get access to a large database of children.

Public Service Commission Chairman Peter Lark said safeguards, including encryption of e-mail addresses and other information, will keep the Michigan registry secure.

Utah is getting ready to set up a similar registry for children there.

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Copyright 2005 The Associated Press.

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[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: I wonder what would be the result in a case like this: I have a fourteen year old nephew who lives in Chicago but (among other things) has an email address from a Michigan ISP. I am seriously thinking about making him the _email coordinator_ for TELECOM Digest; that is, forwarding all Digest email through him via his Michigan email address. When the email hits his box, it will be reforwaded on to me, of course, after judicious picking through of the pieces which are spam. I would have him listed on the 'do not email' list. Heck, maybe we could cut corners if Kansas passed such a law or maybe Massachusetts. So, there would be a jillion plus one pieces of email spam each day. All the spam and p*rn would be automatically forwarded to the appropriate state enforcement authorities for prosecution and hopefully fine collections. What would be the success rate? Maybe one percent? I really would not care; at one percent success, an occassional -- very occassional -- conviction and share of the proceeds in the fines collected would be worth the little effort it would take to forward my spam box each day to the state authorities. I think a 'do not email' list is a great idea, as long as the states or federal government intends to share (at least a little) the loot they can collect by enforcement based on my complaints of course. PAT]
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Lisa Minter
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