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Utah Backs “Kids” in Fight Against FSC

Park City, UT — A state law in Utah designed to protect children from receiving pornographic e-mails is facing a legal attack from a group that lobbies for pornographic and “adult businesses.”

The lawsuit filed Nov. 16 in federal court by the Free Speech Coalition, an organization representing the adult entertainment industry, challenges the constitutionality of Utah’s Child Protection Registry law. That law empowers parents and others to officially register e-mail addresses they wish to protect from receiving inappropriate e-mails that “advertises a product or service that a minor is prohibited by law from purchasing,” or that “contains or advertises material that is harmful to minors.” Companies that sell those products or services are required by the law to scrub their e-mail lists of those registered addresses.

Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff condemned the Free Speech Coalition’s claim that the law violates the Constitution’s First Amendment by unfairly targeting online adult businesses. “This lawsuit shows the pornographers’ true colors,” said Shurtleff. “They claim a ‘right’ to market porn to adults, but by challenging our Child Protection Registry, they have proven their real intent to force smut on our children in our homes and schools.”

Shurtleff promised that the state of Utah would continue to defend the right of parents to protect their children and homes from pornography. “The First Amendment does not allow pornographers to send materials to kids and parents who have expressly asked not to receive them,” declared Utah’s top law enforcer.

Since the law went into effect in July 2005, thousands of parents have registered e-mail addresses they wish to be protected from pornography and adult materials. Scores of public and private schools have also registered their school domains to block adult advertisements from Utah’s classrooms.

The Free Speech Coalition has argued that the cost of regularly “scrubbing” e-mail lists against Utah’s registry database could be prohibitive, “leading to a chilling effect on e-marketing.”

But Mathew Prince, whose company Unspam works with Utah and other states to implement child protection registry measures, said that argument is simply not true. “It only costs adult industry marketers a fraction of a penny per e-mail address to make certain their inappropriate materials aren’t landing in the e-mail inboxes of vulnerable young people,” said Prince, who also serves as an adjunct professor at John Marshall Law School in Chicago, teaching on cyberlaw. “That’s a small price for a small segment of the e-marketing industry to pay to do business in the enormous online world. It hardly represents a “chilling effect.”

Prince also helped Michigan implement a similar Child Protection Registry law, and is currently working with other states interested in such legislation, including Georgia, Illinois, and Ohio. “The success of Utah and Michigan in passing this measure has really gotten the interest of other state legislatures,” said Prince. “Since it is such a common sense issue it has incredible bi-partisan appeal. It’s very hard to oppose a law that protects children so effectively.”

Shurtleff pointed out that legal precedent is solidly on the side of the Utah law. “The courts have consistently affirmed the right of local communities to set standards to protect children from pornography,” he explained. “The Utah Child Protection Registry creates an ‘adult section’ of Internet addresses and provides marketers a fair and secure way to keep salacious materials from children.”

Prince explained that states have long asserted their authority to block pornographers from sending offensive material to children. “Since the late 1960s laws similar to the Child Protection Registry have blocked pornographers from sending their wares unimpeded through the mail,” said Prince.

At that time, he explained, what was known as “brown envelope pornography” was becoming a problem throughout the nation. “Pornographers would send out samples of their material in brown envelopes, suggesting that if the recipient wanted to receive more all they had to do was send in a check,” he explained “It was very similar to what many pornographers are doing in the online world today.”

To address this growing assault on families and children, in 1968 Congress created the Mail Preference Service — a law still on the books today. “It allows anyone with a child under the age of 19 in a household to register their postal address as off-limits to salacious materials,” explained Prince.

While in 1970 one of the senders of “brown envelope pornography” challenged the law all the way to the Supreme Court, the court ultimately upheld the right of individuals to protect their homes and children from such material.

Prince predicted a similar ruling from the Utah lawsuit. “The Free Speech Coalition’s case is all about an industry unwilling to act reasonably and responsibly in order to prevent their materials from reaching individuals who have made it clear they don’t want to receive them,” he said. “They believe that somehow what would be illegal to do in the off-line world is somehow acceptable when children are online.”

He noted that the ever-increasing importance of the Internet and e-mail makes the Child Protection Registry a crucial tool for parents, not just in Utah, but nationwide. “Ultimately this case is all about the right of parents — or anyone else — to refuse these types of solicitations, he said. “I am confident the court will affirm that right.”

For more information on Utah’s Child Protection Registry law, visit

For more on Unspam’s efforts to help states implement Child Protection Registries, visit

To find out what the Free Speech Coalition is up to and how they represent pornographers and others in the “adult entertainment industry,” log on to



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