Why ribaldry could earn you prison time
June 27, 2005, 4:00 AM PT
By Declan McCullagh
Send a raunchy e-mail to a minor, and you may wind up in jail.
That's the thrust of a new law about to take effect in Utah and Michigan
that could become a harbinger for the rest of the nation.
Starting Friday, parents in those two states will be able to add their
children's e-mail addresses to a "do not contact" registry. Anyone who
goes ahead and sends e-mail deemed to be off-color or "harmful to
minors" could be imprisoned for up to three years.
The idea sounds wholesome enough, but it could snare legitimate Internet
companies who rely on e-mail to contact their customers. Critics say it
could capture discussions or advertisements relating to homosexuality,
alcohol, sex, cigarettes, certain pharmaceuticals, gambling and more.
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