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New laws kill ifeminists newsletter

Posted by Richard on July 22, 2005

Wendy McElroy of ifeminists.com announced about a week ago at Liberty & Power that she’s ceasing distribution of her email newsletter because of new "child protection" laws already in effect in Utah and Michigan, and coming soon to other states. These laws create registries of email addresses to which children have access and punish severely anyone who sends prohibited material to an address on these lists.

What’s prohibited? For starters, anything that contains or merely links to information about "alcohol, tobacco, gambling , prescription drugs, or adult-rated material."

In short, e-newsletters (such as ifeminists.net) are not permitted to send to registered email addresses if those newsletters include URLs to news sites that, in turn, link to child-inappropriate commerical information or products such as casino or viagra ads, tobacco or alcohol for sale.

McElroy noted that you’re breaking the law even if someone at the listed address requested the newsletter, and the penalties can include up to three years in prison.

The only protection is for the emailer to make sure that a particular address is not "illegal" by matching his/her mailing list against the registries. That process requires at least two things that I am unwilling to do: 1) turn my mailing list over to the government; and 2) pay a per-address fee for the matching process. Moreover, since I cannot easily ascertain whether a hotmail or aol address has a final destination within Utah or Michigan, I’d have to turn over and pay for virtually every address on a monthly basis to two state governments. (There now are two; there will soon be several more and I would have to keep up with the variations in law in each state.)

McElroy also worried about what the enemies she’s made might do with these laws:

Second, it is difficult to over-state the viciousness and dishonesty of some of the people who attack father’s/men’s rights advocates. Some have crusaded to destroy the careers, lives, and even harm the families of those who advocate positions like the presumption of shared custody. Given that no notification of an inappropriate address is necessary before penalties can be imposed, I believe it is likely that one of these malicious feminists will subscribe to the ifeminists.net newsletter under an inappropriate address and, then, file a complaint when the e-newsletter arrives.

So, from now on, her newsletter content will only be available as part of a news page on her website.

Meanwhile, the amount of real spam you receive won’t be affected one whit. What a crock. 

Thanks to Tom Palmer for pointing this out. Take a look at the wonderful button picture that he uses to illustrate his post, "I’m Speechless."

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