On Friday, Utah Federal District Court Judge Dale Kimball ruled that Utah's Child Protection Registry (CPR) may remain open, denying the Free Speech Coalition's (FSC) Request for an injunction. Judge Kimball's decision comes on the heels of the announcement that the Child Online Protection Act (COPA), a similar federal law, had been struck down as unconstitutional.
The stated purpose of Utah's Child Protection Registry Act (CPR Act; Utah Code Ann. § 13-29-101) is to protect minors from receiving e-mail messages that promote products or services that cannot be lawfully sold to them and/or contain material that is "harmful to minors," as defined by the state of Utah. It purports to do this by establishing a "do not e-mail" registry containing addresses that belong to, or can be accessed by, Utah minors, and imposing criminal penalties on anyone sending such material to any address listed in the registry for more than 30 days.The only defense against the law is for a business to submit its entire email database monthly to a private contractor which charges $5.00 per thousand addresses to "clear" the list against the registry.
The CPR law went into effect on July 15, 2005. The law imposes criminal penalties (including jail time) on any business that e-mails adult material to addresses in the registry. The FSC filed suit on November 17, 2005 in federal district court in Salt Lake City, arguing that the law violates First Amendment rights of consumers and FSC members.
"FSC is not content to let the CPR decision stand," said Diane Duke, FSC Executive Director. "We have a number of avenues to consider, up to and including a victory in court -- the COPA decision only helps to solidify our case."
Among the options open to FSC are a request for reconsideration of the decision based on the COPA decision, an appeal of the injunction decision, and finally, a trial to determine the constitutionality of the law itself.
"This new wave of outside businesses/registries making millions of dollars off of the industry in the guise of 'child protection' has got to stop," the FSC announced this morning in a press release. "They are using fear and falsehoods to create legislation that does nothing more than line their pockets with industry dollars. FSC will continue to protect our members and to dispel the lies promulgated by these industry leeches."