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New Michigan Law Means Kids Can Opt Out of Spam 183

tekiegreg writes "Thanks to a new Michigan Law, parents can now opt their kids out of Spam. One wonders whether or not such severe penalty will make Spammers think twice ($30,000 fine and 3 yrs/jail)." I wonder how much legislation will actually help keep kids from being spammed, but if it works, I'm happy to say I'm under age 13 if it means I get less spam.
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New Michigan Law Means Kids Can Opt Out of Spam

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  • Kids only (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Zouden ( 232738 ) on Saturday July 02, 2005 @09:48AM (#12968532)
    Interesting that it's for 'protecting the children'. Why not just let all Michigan residents opt-out of spam?
    It's almost as if the legislators are making a compromise...
    • It's for "protecting the children" because since mankind began we've built social stories to protect inexperienced people from the ill side effects of doing something that they may regret or by accident/misfortune have something fall awry eg. sexual diseases, or unwanted pregnancy.

      Spam is annoying as hell though and I agree that anyone should opt-out.
    • Re:Kids only (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hunterx11 ( 778171 )
      Because it's easier to convince people to protect the children...


      • Re:Kids only (Score:4, Insightful)

        by tverbeek ( 457094 ) on Saturday July 02, 2005 @12:01PM (#12969078) Homepage

        Hell, that argument's so persuasive that it gets used for things that have nothing to do with children, like same-gender marriage.

  • But what about porn (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bhmit1 ( 2270 ) on Saturday July 02, 2005 @09:48AM (#12968535) Homepage
    If you claim to be under 13, does that prevent you from seeing porn, online banking, and one day, online voting?
    • Are many people under 13 going to even get that much spam? I bet most of them will have e-mail addresses, but will only check them lke once a month or something. I doubt this will even end up doing anything.
  • Heck yeah (Score:5, Funny)

    by MyLongNickName ( 822545 ) on Saturday July 02, 2005 @09:48AM (#12968537) Journal
    I already ACT under 13. Does that get me out of spam?
  • by jayakamal ( 786351 ) on Saturday July 02, 2005 @09:50AM (#12968544)
    filtered spam for tweens, no tobacco just junk food spam
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 02, 2005 @09:50AM (#12968546)
    Why haven't vigilante hacker-types taken the bad guys off the net yet?
  • by DanielMarkham ( 765899 ) on Saturday July 02, 2005 @09:52AM (#12968551) Homepage
    So if I'm somewhere else, say orbiting in the space station, do I have to now lookup every country, every state and province, to see whom I can email or not?
    Hey. I love protecting the kids. Perhaps we should all get a law. I'd also like to grow hair and be taller. But until leglislators can change the fabric of reality, these things are not going to happen. Makes for nice press. Little else.

    Just How Many Stooges were in the Three Stooges? []
    • by Anonymous Coward
      It sounds like you have a problem them. But it's good that you're up for protecting kids.

      Since I only email kids who are my relatives, I don't have to verify any email addresses I mail to.

      But if you often send mail to kids, well, then that's an issue.
    • So if I'm somewhere else, say orbiting in the space station, do I have to now lookup every country, every state and province, to see whom I can email or not?

      No, only the ones you actually send e-mail to.

      And if you only send e-mail to those that explicity give you an e-mail address, you can probably rely on them to tell you where they're from.

    • "So if I'm somewhere else, say orbiting in the space station, do I have to now lookup every country, every state and province, to see whom I can email or not?"

      Or you can just... you know... not email people you don't now.
    • OMG I thought all that data was filtered for over 13 yrs old on the 20 million Email addresses fot $9.95 CD! Do you actualy mean that my cd vendor merely used an illegal web scraping script to collect possible email addresses and then sold them to me as ligitimate verified Email addresses without actualy verifieing them? What a scumbag, how is a ligitamate spammer supposed to make a linving what they have to deal with scumbags like that. Next thing you'll tell me is all of that viagra i sell is expired.
  • by hsmith ( 818216 ) on Saturday July 02, 2005 @09:53AM (#12968553)
    All the spammers in Russia and China are shaking in their boots worried about a Michigan law.

    oh the oppression!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 02, 2005 @09:53AM (#12968556)
    Because if so, I'll gladly become a kid from Michigan.

    Send Email to Utah, Go to Jail []

    The Institute for Spam and Internet Public Policy is reporting that two new laws in Utah and Michigan are going into effect next week, creating 'do not email' registries for children's email addresses. According to ISIPP, 'Email marketers who send unpermitted messages to email addresses or domains on the child protection registries in Michigan and Utah face stiff penalties including prison and fines.'" (Note that ISIPP has a vested interest in publicizing these laws, since they offer a service intended to establish that senders are in fact within the law.)
  • Oh Great (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MBoffin ( 259181 ) on Saturday July 02, 2005 @09:55AM (#12968557) Homepage
    Uh huh. So a huge list is compiled of all the underage kids. Yeesh. I'm sure the spammers will love that list. I can't even fathom the sheer volume of spam they will get once they aren't underage anymore.
    • Re:Oh Great (Score:2, Insightful)

      Yeah, and wait till some idiot corrupt or incompetent company accidently 'loses' that list to some high paying pedo's.
    • Wait until the pervos manage to get a hold of the list..
    • I'm sure the spammers will love that list. I can't even fathom the sheer volume of spam they will get once they aren't underage anymore.

      Kind of like the U.S. Dept. of Defense using access to kids' high school records for recruitment purposes?

    • Re:Oh Great (Score:3, Interesting)

      by legirons ( 809082 )
      "Uh huh. So a huge list is compiled of all the underage kids"

      You'd assume that the published list would be MD5s of the lowercase version of each email address, and that the full database would only be available to the michigan government, their contractors, credit agencies, anyone who cracks their website.

      At least, that's how everyone here would probably implement it. They don't need to release the email addresses, just provide a way to check whether they're on the list or not.
      • Re:Oh Great (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        From their website: d=4 []

        QUESTION: How is the privacy of registrants maintained?

        ANSWER: The security of a list of child-accessible e-mail addresses was of great concern when designing the Protect MI Child Registry. Registered e-mail addresses are stored in such a way that the addresses will not be revealed, even if the system's database is compromised. Even the state does not have access to the registered e-mail addresses.
    • I don't know. I can see some use coming of this.

      Logically, once the first spammer is successfully prosecuted, the majority of bulk mailing software will probably evolve to allow a list of "email addresses not to spam under any circumstances". All I need to do then is figure out a way to get my email address onto that list...
  • by rich42 ( 633659 ) on Saturday July 02, 2005 @09:55AM (#12968558) Homepage
    I'm sure this will be just as effective as all the existing anti-spam legislation.

    If the sender of each illegal message in my inbox actually got prosecuted according to existing laws - there could me millions of dollars in fines. Nothing is consistently enforced though - so its pretty much as if the existing laws don't really exist. I don't see why this one will be any different.

    • Really, I remember the can-spam act. I hope my dad doesn't kill me for linking to this, but this image [] [] shows the number of spam positives my dad received over time, and has the Can Spam act marked. The governor's statement that this will "Stop spam" is hardly founded.
  • Easy to enforce? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bhmit1 ( 2270 ) on Saturday July 02, 2005 @09:59AM (#12968572) Homepage
    Some Internet safety experts have said anti-spam laws have been difficult to enforce...

    Some??? Who's this so called expert that claimed they are easy the enforce?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I didn't especially mind spam, but I sure wished I could opt out of pickled beets.
  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Saturday July 02, 2005 @10:02AM (#12968584) Homepage
    People ask, "Why just kids?" Spammers want to collect money for doing almost nothing and taking no responsibility for what they do. When they send porn to kids, it makes people angry... very angry.

    So when someone is finally taken to trial for sending spam to kids, they won't escape from a jury saying "sorry, I didn't know..."
    • Tragically, you're probably right.

      Why tragically? Because they shouldn't be able to go "I didn't know I was sending porn to kids", because they the should have checked. And if they didn't know, they shouldn't have been doing it.

      Myself, I figure crypto signing is the way forward. If I can verify who you are, your mail gets through, otherwise it drops in my spam folder. Tragically, I appear to be alone in this belief.
    • I think it would be *awesome* if anyone found sending porn advertisements to kids would have to face prosecution for exposing lewd material to a minor and had to register as a sex offender and notify their neighbors when they moved into the neighborhood. That would make it so much easier to identify targets for lynch mobs.

      Of course, sending pornographic materials to minors is illegal no matter what, so I don't see what this law accomplishes.
  • Encrypted? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by LordEd ( 840443 ) on Saturday July 02, 2005 @10:16AM (#12968631)
    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.

    Can somebody explain how the registry can be encrypted, and STILL be available to spammers so they know who 'not' to spam?

    Spammer> I don't want to get suid... can you tell me who not to spam.

    Govt> Sorry, that's classified.

    • Hash (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Group with the list of kids does this:

      1. Make hashes of every kid email address using SHA-512 or whatever.
      2. Makes list of hashes queryable via some service.

      Bulk-Mail Advertisers (spammers) do this:
      1. Send a query of every email address they want to test to the list. If it's a kid email address, they get some sort of message telling them so.

      So, basically, you can't just browse the list for email addresses to send to. You have to at least have the email address (or guess it) first.
      • But can't they then use this service to validate any random email addresses they've produced? It seems like a great way for them to start generating email addresses and finding out if they actually exist.

        If a hashed database is made then I really hope they put a time delay on it so spammers can only check X amount of addresses at a time.
        • Re:Hash (Score:2, Informative)

          by miley ( 782806 )
          Their deterent is that it costs $0.007 per address to do the listwash. I'm *sure* that noone will produce and sell a CD of all the addresses they have found on the list.
    • The spammers can only safely spam the people they know are old enough to spam. Not that I'm claiming this will work or anything.
    • You don't get access to the full database; rather, you can provide email addresses yourself and have them checked to see if they're in the database or not.

      So you really don't gain any new email addresses you didn't have before.
    • Re:Encrypted? (Score:2, Informative)

      by WebSorcerer ( 889656 )
      The security is explained here: e.html [] A simplified explaination is that they send their mailing list (which is encrypted), and get back their list with the protected addresses removed. All someone would have to do is send in a list and see what is removed to have a list of addresses for households with children. I could not find any State requirements on how the list holders should protect this information.
    • Spammer: I don't want to get suid... can you tell me who not to spam.
      Govt: Sorry, that's classified.

      Ignoring for a moment why the spammer wouldn't want to be suid (is that a sort of identity theft?)... doesn't stuff like that already happen?

      Pilot: I don't want to get shot down... can you tell me where are the nuclear power stations that I must stay 30 miles away from?
      Govt: Sorry, that's classified.

      Builder: I don't want to get sued... can you tell me what rules apply to the house I'm building?
  • by louzerr ( 97449 ) <Mr.Pete.Nelson@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Saturday July 02, 2005 @10:24AM (#12968655) Homepage
    While I do think it's a good start, I question the other ways kids are NOT protected ... namely in the educational institutions.

    We allow advertising for Snickers, M&Ms, Coke & Pepsi all over our high and junior high schools, and allow Universities (like the former U of Minnesota - now a research facility instead of a school) to sell students personal information to any bank or credit card company we choose.

    Spam is hardly a threat compared to corporate "education".
  • Evil people (Score:3, Interesting)

    by a_greer2005 ( 863926 ) on Saturday July 02, 2005 @10:32AM (#12968686)
    What about sicos LOOKING for kids online to do God only knows what they have one centeral clearinghouse - No more spending weeks trolling in "kids" chatrooms any more, this is why I was also against the .kids top level domain thing that came about a couple of years ago.
  • *Starts shutting down his spam email servers*

    Living in Michigan sucks =(
  • This Law Is Evil (Score:4, Informative)

    by Sarbandia ( 602422 ) on Saturday July 02, 2005 @10:36AM (#12968702) Homepage
    I can't believe no one has mentioned this yet. This law really does abridge freedom of speech - if you send an email with a link to a site with credit card advertisments to an email on this list, you could concievably be thrown in *jail*. D=3023 []
    • Let's go over this:

      The point of freedom of speech is so that everyone can voice their political opinion. The new law does not punish people who send e-mails with links to credit card advertisements. RTFA before screaming "Constitution!" The new law bans sending messages to children related to such things as pornography, illegal or prescription drugs, alcohol, tobacco, gambling, firearms, or fireworks. While the government cannot exercise prior restraint to prevent people from advertising illegal serv

  • Truly Naive (Score:2, Insightful)

    I love an ideological person, and even more so, an ideological politician. People that think they truly can change the world. However, the line between ideological and naive is a fine one, and one that was certainly crossed here:

    "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."

    It will not put an end
  • It's not a law, and it doesn't ban spam.

    It bans some email. It doesn't tell you which email; you have to guess. Lots of spam is ok under the statute. It's not limited to bulk email, one is enough. Have you verified everyone on your contacts list isn't actually a michigan minor? How exactly did you verify that? It's not limited to commercial email. on-registry-law.php []
    There's the text, which was missing from the main post. Do you understand it? Does your lawyer understand it? Are you in compliance?

    The statute is not a law. One of the basic rules of american law established by Marbury v Madison is that an unconstitutional statute is not law.
    This statute appears to be unconstitutional for the reasons discussed in Cyberspace v Engler, which stuck down Michigan's previous attempt at banning the internet because of the kiddies. []

    Some of the fun provisions in the act:
    they can make you come to michigan with all your business records to answer questions.
    They can seize your computers.
    If they were serious about protecting kids, they wouldn't be charging a fee to check the list.
    Oh and it's not just parents who can add names - government officials can add kids' names, probably without telling them.
    For fun, check the linking policy.,1607,7-192-26915-208 9--,00.html []
    It's a shakedown.
    It's not constitutional.
    It doesn't protect against spam.
    It bans some email but not others.
    Spam is a real problem. This isn't a real solution.
    Personally, getting on the federal and state do not call lists has been great for me.
    This isn't like that.
    Don't be a dupe.
    This is what we fought Reno v ACLU for - to keep the government from shutting down the internet.
    • It's a shakedown

      No kidding. I work for a company that has something like 10 million emails in our database. Our clients are top-drawer companies that run opt-in lists. One pass through Michigan's database is $70,000K for us. AND since the law says that each sender has to validate their own lists, then our clients much do the same thing, netting MI another $70K. And this on a *monthly* basis. I suspect that our runs alone would pay for the entire database and the employees to run it - $1.7 million per

    • It bans some email. It doesn't tell you which email; you have to guess. Lots of spam is ok under the statute. It's not limited to bulk email, one is enough

      No but it is limited to commercial email, and not all commercial email at that:

      Sec. 5. A person shall not send, cause to be sent, or conspire with a third party to send a message to a contact point that has been registered for more than 30 calendar days with the department if the primary purpose of the message is to, directly or indirectly, ad

  • An European directive (Oct 2003) makes it illegal to send "unsolicited e-mails illegal across member states". []
    Why not make this something global and not only to protect children..?

    Although this would not realy solve the problem. ISPs should take more action to prevent that unsolicited e-mails are being send on their subnet anyway.
  • By targetting the under 13 crowd, it is easier to pass legislature that people feel good about, it may also be far easier to enforce, giving them a foot in the door.

    I also think that the bill is more of an anti-pedophile bill in reality, since it does not limit itself to commercial e-mails and is under-13 not under-18.

    The police are a lot more interested in keeping pron folks away from under-13 than teens. It should be easier to put teeth onto this.
  • Opting out of spam? Hahahahahahahaha. Thats a good one.
  • This is american tax payers money at work :) you pay millions to ppl to make laws which are useless... Taking this money and spending it on technological solutions to the spam probelm... Even requiring isps/computer manufactures to preinstall basic antivirus would work better by removing all the machines that are used as proxies to send spam and other bs...
  • Why not make it illegal to sell stuff over unsolicited e-mails. It must be several times easier to track sellers than to try to track spammers. This, of course, would not stop phishing e-mails but it would reduce the overall spam traffic.
  • Sure, this might have a "chilling effect" on "legitimate" commercial email, but so what? Is legitimate commercial email really all that fantastic? Who needs it?

    If I were in charge of the lawmaking process I would create a new protocol for commercial email (bills, recipts, some advertizing) that had strict requirements like digital signatures that let people chose what organizations they wanted to get.

    Then I would ban commercial, automated email entirely. (You could still individualy email clients, o
  • The law will make spammers think long enough for the kids to turn 13, then start spamming them at their verified, market-segmented email addresses. New email addresses will become a traditional birthday present.
  • I'm happy to say I'm under age 13 if it means... I can score with some cute girls from Jr. High!
  • by nuintari ( 47926 ) on Saturday July 02, 2005 @02:04PM (#12969595) Homepage
    Wow, this gives a whole new reason to claim to be a 13 year old girl on the internet.
  • Ok, how about another solution? Email provider that allows the parents to whitelist who can send mail to that child. All other mail is quarantined ahead of time, and the parent can inspect it and release it to the child.

    Hey! What an idea! Having the parents be involved in what their children are doing online!
    Too bad it's easier to get "for the children" legislation passed instead.
    • But no-one would use it, it's too much of a hassle.
  • One wonders whether or not such severe penalty will make Spammers think twice ($30,000 fine and 3 yrs/jail).


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