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New State Email Laws, Effective 7/1/05Views: 2184
Jul 01, 2005 2:45 amNew State Email Laws, Effective 7/1/05#

lisa micklin
July 1, 2005 both Michigan and Utah will be instating new email laws.

Here's the gist of the laws as I interpret them. Please keep in mind that I am not a lawyer, this is just my "ezine-esque" interpretation of the research I have done.

Things to know:

~ Legal action can be instigated by individuals. That means that any Bobby Smith,Jane Doe, or Charlie brown in Michigan or Utah can instigate a legal action against you. That's big stuff, folks. It's not just the ISPs who can sue you.

~ Both states are instating a "Do Not Email" registry. Just like the "Do Not Call Registry," if an email is on that list and you email them, even if they opted-in, you are breaking the law.

~ The laws are allegedly designed so that parents and legal guardians can register minors' addresses. However, experts are speculating that adults will be using the registry for themselves which is legally ok to do if a child has access to that address.

~ What's not ok to mail: the usual stuff:
porn, gambling, illegal stuff, etc. Also on the list is financial info (including credit card offers), mortgage info, etc.

~ But wait, there's more! If you send an email,albeit permission based, and there is a link to a 3rd party site that has a credit card offer on it, you are liable. Am I insane, or is this insane? There has been some mention that you get to plead innocence on this piece once.

~ Opt-in don't mean a thing according to these laws, and neither does a paid subscription. Regardless of your proof of how an address got on your list, if they are registered with the registry, you are responsible for removing them.

~ You are required to check with both state registries and remove any registered email addresses from your lists. You are required to do this every 30 days.

~ These state laws can not be weasled out of with the slightly more protective and precise CAN-SPAM laws which contradict the state laws in areas.

More info here until 7/10 only http://www.marketingsherpa.com/sample.cfm?contentID=3023

(If you want to read a rant, keep reading. If you're over it, just click the link above and educate yourself.)

Some ranting thoughts on the matter:

This is just inane. Especially the illegality of linking to sites with law breaking ads and the need to clean lists against state registries. What the heck happens when more and more states follow suit? Are they gonna give publishers some kind of grant to pay an assistant to list check with each state before every send?

For best practices be aware of what you are publishing, who you are linking to (maybe link to your own sites only for a while), and think twice before including things like Google Ads in your ezine if you cannot verify that every ad on every site that the Google ads may link to falls within the parameters of these insipid laws.

I didn't mention in my list above that these states are providing funding for legal action. Isn't that just lovely? Instead of spending tax payer dollars on likely ineffective legal action, why not spend it on educational programs for parents and legal guardians that teach them how to run and manage safe computing for their minors? Heck, most adults don't even know how to run an adult safe and secure computer for themselves, why think that they could learn and set up same for their minors? Guess I'm a Utopian at heart.

I understand the need to "protect" minors, I really have no gripe with that part. But, I'm pretty certain that these new laws and others that are to come that engage "Do Not Email" registries will do more to decrease the spam the parents/guardians receive than to "protect" their kids who are being let into R-rated movies by employees not old enough to see the movies themselves, or, who are porning their way across the web in small town libraries or their own homes, who don't have the network administrators with the know-how to lock down a computer station for minors.

OK, I'm almost done ranting. If you hear of any such potential legislation being raised in your state, despite the temptation to lessen your own spam intake, put up a fight, as it is the honest and innocent content publishers who will end up paying in the end, while Viagra spam and the Hot Chix who are waiting up for you still land in both yours and the minors' inboxes.

Phew! Welcome to lesson 208 of how NOT to regulate email delivery.

Your comments are welcome,
lisa
~~~~~~~~~

Private Reply to lisa micklin

Jul 01, 2005 3:10 amre: New State Email Laws, Effective 7/1/05#

Des Walsh
Lisa

Thanks for the alert on this. Staggering!

I was going to blog on this, but if your message is just for us Ryze people that could be problematic and from what you've written my assumption is that the MarketingSherpa link is quite temporary - is that right?

Des

Private Reply to Des Walsh

Jul 01, 2005 3:48 amre: New State Email Laws, Effective 7/1/05#

Dale Noles
If I understood this correctly, if I live in UT or MI, I can opt-in to receive your e-zine and when I get your message, I can take you to court for sending me an e-mail?!

That's preposterous! Where will it end?

Eventually we will hire police officers to protect us, then when we get arrested for any reason, we could sue the police department for failing to protect us against our own actions.

--I'm just floored..

Dale Noles
www.VirtualAccuracy.com

Private Reply to Dale Noles

Jul 01, 2005 2:36 pmre: re: New State Email Laws, Effective 7/1/05#

lisa micklin
Hi Des-

Feel free to spread the word. MarketingSherpa posts their articles for free for a limited period, then they become pay to read. In this case, article is free until 7/10.

Also feel free to link to this thread here at the cafe, it is available for public viewing. The link is:
http://www.ryze.com/posttopic.php?topicid=502321&confid=390

best,
lisa
~~~~~~~~~

Private Reply to lisa micklin

Jul 01, 2005 2:40 pmre: re: New State Email Laws, Effective 7/1/05#

lisa micklin
Hi Dale-

Just to clarify:

You said:
"if I live in UT or MI, I can opt-in to receive your e-zine and when I get your message, I can take you to court for sending me an e-mail?!"

Kinda, but not really. The following criteria must be met as I understand it:

1) your email must contain or link to a site that contains content that is on the "hit list."

2) the email address must be registered with one of the above states "Do Not Email" registries.

3) a minor must have access to that email address in order for it to be registered.

hope this clarifies,
lisa
~~~~~~~~

Private Reply to lisa micklin

Jul 01, 2005 5:27 pmre: re: New State Email Laws, Effective 7/1/05#

Debbie Fortier-Success Leaves Clues
I agree with Dale as well. if someone requests info from me, I don't give a hoot where they live, if they want to take action, they are going to get very nice surprise of counter-action. Federal Law stipulates and over-rides this as "one who claims unsolicited email (spam) who in fact requested it, and files a spam complaint..is liable."

Happy 4th Everyone

Claim your Independence Again !

Mark

Private Reply to Debbie Fortier-Success Leaves Clues

Jul 01, 2005 6:12 pmre: re: re: New State Email Laws, Effective 7/1/05#

Georgie Marquez-Andre
On the other side... even more "absurdly" and inane... does this mean that people living in these states can not sign up for ezines? Because no one is going to take the risk on getting sued, so we will keep unsubscribing them!

On a similar note... should we then now add "State" to our sign up forms? I usually just ask for a first name and email address.

Georgie

Private Reply to Georgie Marquez-Andre

Jul 07, 2005 4:10 pmre: New State Email Laws, Effective 7/1/05#

lisa micklin
I don't see how adding a "state" field to your subscription forms is going to alleviate your liability. This would leave it in the subscribers' hands to fill in the proper "state" field, which you cannot be certain that they will do.

What you are likely to see as this settles down a bit are the ESPs (email service providers) offering state list scrubs for the publishers' databases against the state registries, in this case, every 30 days.

hth,
lisa
~~~~~~~~~

Private Reply to lisa micklin

Jul 08, 2005 2:03 amre: re: New State Email Laws, Effective 7/1/05#

Georgie Marquez-Andre
Lisa!
Can you explain you answer?
I really don't understand what you mean.
What exactly will the ESPs do?

Thanks... sorry...

Georgie

Private Reply to Georgie Marquez-Andre

Jul 08, 2005 3:38 amre: New State Email Laws, Effective 7/1/05#

lisa micklin
What I meant is the possibility that the ESPs will begin to put systems in place to check the publishers' databases against the state registries and remove any addresses that are listed with the registries.

For instance, you use EZezine as your ESP. We are tossing around the idea of writing into the EZezine software a program that will check all of our users' subscriber lists against state " do not email" registries every 30 days and removing any addresses (in your database) that are listed. This way you won't have to deal with it.

Honestly though, as an ESP, I'm leaning towards letting the hubub/buzz of these new laws die down a bit and see what's left after the storm has cleared before making any major programming decisions.

I'm curious, as someone who doesn't live in either state, how the states are promoting this new law. In other words, how are the "subscribers" who reside in these states finding out about the new legislations? Are there PSAs being run during prime time TV? Any MI or UT residents in this network who can give us their perspective on what their local ISPs and TV/Radio stations are saying about the situation, if anything is being said at all?

Hope this clarifies,
lisa
~~~~~~~~~

Private Reply to lisa micklin

Aug 13, 2005 3:17 pmre: re: New State Email Laws, Effective 7/1/05#

Monica Ricci
You know what's funny? Laws only apply to those who are inclined to follow them. Since the whole hub-bub with anti-spam laws became a conversation, I have gotten MORE spam than ever.

Spammers don't care nor do they follow the law anyway. MORE LAWS is not the answer to anything. Laws don't do anything but restrict the legitimate actions of legitimate business people.

Monica

Private Reply to Monica Ricci

Aug 21, 2005 11:34 pmre: re: re: New State Email Laws, Effective 7/1/05#

Nick Roy
I agree with Monica. Some of these laws are written by people who are anti-business and anti-capitalism. The people who wrote and passed this law in Michigan must be from the loony left who are insensed with trying to destroy this country.

Private Reply to Nick Roy

Sep 01, 2005 11:46 pmre: New State Email Laws, Effective 7/1/05#

Rob & Heidi Whitaker
Lisa,

As a resident of the state of Utah, I am wondering where in the heck they are getting money to "fund" legal action. We don't even have enough money for important things like keeping sex offenders in jail. Good grief!!!!!!!

Heidi
Autoimmune Education
Author, Speaker

Private Reply to Rob & Heidi Whitaker

Sep 05, 2005 8:24 pmre: New State Email Laws, Effective 7/1/05#

Garland Coulson

Glad I live in Canada!  :)  When people sign up for my newsletter providing state, province and country is optional, so how would I be able to comply?  At least if it is one single database, you could check it, but if you have to check databases for each state, that would be tough.

Will they provide us all with copies of the do-not-email databases so we can check?  Then we opt-in marketers will work hard to make sure we don't mess up while real spammers will treat the database as another group to add to their list or send it overseas, creating even more spam. (sigh)

Garland Coulson, "The E-Business Tutor"
Market while you surf!
FREE Traffic and Research Toolbar for FireFox and Internet Explorer
http://www.freetrafficbar.com 
 

Private Reply to Garland Coulson

Sep 06, 2005 6:49 amre: re: New State Email Laws, Effective 7/1/05#

William J
I guess I can't send a newsletter out to my opt in list anymore.

William Jaroske

Private Reply to William J

Sep 06, 2005 2:19 pmre: New State Email Laws, Effective 7/1/05#

lisa micklin
It's interesting to see this topic get stirred up again, 2 months later. Since both states implemented these laws in July, I've personally seen no mention of any law suits founded on them. Has anyone else?

I don't think it's as grim as needing to stop publishing to your lists, but there are some things that you can do to protect yourself.

1) make "state" a mandatory field on your sign-up form. No, this won't totally protect you, and yes, anyone can spoof a state on a form, but it can help. I myself have not done this and frankly am not in a hurry to, but will likely do so over the winter.

2) begin publishing by rss if you're not already doing so, and encourage subscribers to migrate to this media. By doing so you're likely to lose all kinds of awesome stats that you may currently have at your fingertips, but you will gain a lot of peace of mind. Plus, the more folks we educate in rss technology, the more existing spam issues for publishers will become a thing of a past. (that is until spammers figure out how to hijack rss feeds)

3) put a statement in your ezine signup saying something like "if you live in MI or UT, please do not subscribe."
OUCH!

OK, I'm on my first cup of coffee and these were just some top of my head ideas.

The VERY BEST thing that you can do to protect yourself is only link back to and promote your own or very trusted sites and services. This isn't really that hard to do and many of us are already doing it.

more coffee for me!,
lisa
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Ezine Hosting in a Spam-Free Environment:
http://EZezine.com

How To Start Your Ezine:
http://StartYourEzine.com
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Private Reply to lisa micklin

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