In comments provided this week to Hawaii State Senator Carol Fukunaga, Federal Trade Commission staff warned that a proposed registry for Hawaii children’s e-mail addresses may provide pedophiles and other dangerous persons with a list of children whose addresses are in the registry, and that a registry may increase the amount of e-mail spam sent to registered addresses.
Hawaii Senate Bill 2200 would establish a “child protection registry” and make it unlawful to send a registrant e-mail advertising a product or service minors cannot legally buy, or that contains or advertises adult content or related Internet links. Senator Carol Fukunaga asked the FTC if the bill would reduce the amount of unwanted spam, and how the bill might affect Hawaii consumers and competition.
In the FTC’s June 2004 National Do Not Email Registry, A Report to Congress, FTC staff stated that existing security methods cannot fully protect such a registry from misuse, and thus “the Internet’s most dangerous users, including pedophiles . . . could use this information to target children.” In addition, without a system to authenticate the origin of e-mails, such a registry would be unlikely to reduce spam. Instead, spammers would most likely use a national e-mail registry to verify the validity of e-mail addresses. Therefore, an e-mail registry may actually increase the amount of spam received by registrants. The report can be found at the FTC’s Web site at: http://www.ftc.gov/reports/dneregistry/report.pdf.
In regard to Hawaii Senate Bill 2200, FTC staff concluded:
The Commission vote authorizing the staff to provide the comments to Hawaii State Senator Fukunaga was 5-0. (FTC File No. V060012; the staff contact is Christopher M. Grengs, Office of Policy Planning, 202-326-2612)
Copies of the documents mentioned in this release are available from the FTC’s Web site at http://www.ftc.gov and also from the FTC’s Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20580. Call toll-free: 1-877-FTC-HELP.