LANSING, Mich. - Starting Friday, parents can sign up for what Michigan officials say is the nation's first registry aimed at keeping spammers from sending children inappropriate e-mail.
The new law bans sending messages to children related to such things as pornography, illegal or prescription drugs, alcohol, tobacco, gambling, firearms or fireworks. Parents and schools will be able to register children's e-mail addresses.
"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."
Signing up for the registry is free, and parents soon will be able to add their children's instant message IDs, mobile phone numbers, fax numbers and pager numbers.
E-mail senders must comply with the new law by Aug. 1. Violators face up to three years in jail or fines up to $30,000 if convicted of breaking the law, and could face civil penalties of up to $5,000 per message sent.
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.
Utah is getting ready to set up a similar registry for children there.