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Michigan and Utah's Flawed E-mail Registries

In the ongoing battle against spam and, more specifically, the targeting of children, Utah and Michigan lawmakers are looking at creating an email registry that will act like a ‘do-not-call’ list.
Read the Yahoo article from Associated Press.
I applaud the idea of trying to curb pornographic and otherwise inappropriate messages from reaching children but I believe there are fundamental flaws in this line of thinking.

First of all, the new law will require email senders to ‘scrub’ their lists against the email registry. Spammers rarely follow the laws so why would this one be any different?
Furthermore, since US spam often originates outside the US (just like most Canadian spam comes from outside our borders) there is little that can be done to compel these email senders to follow the new rules. When it comes to enforcement, authorities already have a tough time tracking down and prosecuting spammers inside their borders, how are they going to be effective when the perpetrators are outside the country?
I think the use of technology-based authentication and reputation systems is the way to go. Paula Skaper’s recent post – Hotmail Demands Sender ID – on MSN Hotmail and their use of visual notification on messages that can not be authenticated is the way to go. It will force legitimate marketers using email to ensure their systems and partners are sufficiently compliant thus reducing the number of ‘fringe’ email service providers and marketers looking at taking advantage of the low cost of email without following the laws and industry guidelines.
The downside for marketers using email is that they will have to closely monitor their email delivery systems, both internally (e.g. person-to-person, customer service, support, etc.) and externally (e.g. outsourced and high-volume email deployment) in areas such as compliance and deliverability.

One Comment

  1. June Macdonald
    June Macdonald July 7, 2005

    I don’t see how this legislation can be enforced, other than creating a headache for legitimate, conscientious marketers. The legislation says you can’t market ANYTHING to children that they are not allowed to buy themselves (travel?). And then goes ahead and creates a database of minors that some sick hacker could access?
    What parent with any savvy would let their childrens’ email addresses get onto that list?
    Good intentions, bad implementation.

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