Are You (Inadvertently) Marketing to Children?

This is not news, but you might be unaware: back in 2004, the states of Utah and Michigan enacted Child Protection Registry Acts. The goal was to prevent inappropriate content from getting through to minors — including references to alcohol, tobacco, gambling, or pornographic content. The vehicle for achieving this is a secured, Do-Not-Contact database of children’s contact points — email addresses, mobile numbers, fax numbers, and instant messaging IDs — submitted by parents and maintained by the states.

Legitimate marketers who are dealing with potentially objectionable content in their email or mobile campaigns need to scrub their lists against the Child Registry Database. The scrubbing process will cost 1.2 cents per email address (a fee assessed by the states), and you will be returned a cleaned up list with any registered addresses removed. In addition, the scrubbing process must be repeated every 30 days.

Failure to comply can result in parent complaints and stiff fines from the states — potentially for both the sender and the client company. In our legal counsel’s opinion, objectionable material on the landing page or destination site (even if absent in the campaign message itself) can also get you into trouble. This has been significant to our hotel-casino clients, who may be sending out emails about low room rates, but are also linking to their company site that presents casino and gambling promotions.

Two commonly perceived loop-holes:
1. Hey, I’ll just exclude UT and MI addresses from my email campaign: Wrong. If you are collecting zip code or state information during opt-in, don’t assume that your recipients are volunteering accurate data.
2. Hey, I asked for date-of-birth during opt-in — I’ll just exclude the minors: Again, wrong. Asking for a recipient’s date of birth during opt-in does not protect you from prosecution under this act. Inclusion in the registry trumps opt-in consent.

Fluency Media is one of a handful of approved ESPs providing the list scrubbing service. Contact us for more information, and of course check with your own legal counsel.