Service Helps Marketers Comply With New E-Mail Laws Protecting Children

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VerticalResponse Inc. introduced a program yesterday to help e-mail marketers comply with recent laws enacted in Utah and Michigan covering e-mails to minors.


The laws, which took effect July 1, mandate the states to create and operate e-mail address registries similar to current do-not-call lists to protect children from getting e-mails promoting products and services that are restricted to minors because of their age.


Individuals may place any e-mail address on the registries "to which a minor may have access." Schools and other child-focused organizations also may register entire Internet domains. The registries prohibit sending ads to telephone numbers (cellular and land line), pager numbers, fax numbers, instant messaging identities, e-mail addresses and other electronic "contact points" listed on the registries.


Once an e-mail address is on the registry, commercial e-mailers are prohibited from sending anything with advertising, or linking to advertising, for a product or service that a minor is otherwise legally prohibited from accessing, such as alcohol, tobacco, gambling, prescription drugs or adult-rated material. This is the case even if the mailing was requested.


To ensure that they don't send unpermitted material to any e-mail address on the registry, e-mail senders are required to match their mailing lists against the registries monthly, for which they must pay Michigan and Utah a per-e-mail-address fee. Civil penalties for violation are substantial -- $5,000 per message in Michigan up to $250,000 per day, and $1,000 per message in Utah.


VerticalResponse's Registry Compliance Program offers a data scrubbing service that reconciles subscribers' e-mail lists with the registries on a monthly basis. Matches found within the registries will be blocked so they can't be mailed from the designated VerticalResponse account.


Melissa Campanelli covers postal news, CRM and database marketing for DM News and DMNews.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters


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