Michigan law chief charges companies with spamming children

August 11, 2006 Sophos Press Release

Spam emails about gambling and pornography can be received by children's computers. Image copyright (c) Sophos.
Spam emails about gambling and pornography can be received by children's computers

Experts at SophosLabs™, Sophos's global network of virus, spyware and spam analysis centers, have reminded companies of the importance of obeying anti-spam laws following the announcement of legal action being taken against two companies accused of sending unsolicited email about gambling and alcoholic drinks to children.

According to Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox, RR Media Inc. of Cathedral City, California, and Data Stream Group Inc. of Bonita Springs, Florida, sent emails with the intention of enticing children to visit gambling websites and promoted alcoholic beverages.

The messages are said to have been sent to children's e-mail addresses registered under Michigan's Child Protection Registry Act. The act requires companies to check the registry to remove children's email addresses before sending messages advertising goods or services that children cannot legally buy (such as alcohol, tobacco, gambling and pornography).

"Parents don't want their children to be bombarded with adverts for gambling and porn websites, or have alcohol and tobacco pushed upon them via spam. Companies who refuse to abide by the rules regulating email communications can expect short shrift from the authorities," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "But spam is a problem for children around the globe, not just in Michigan, and more needs to be done to stamp it out."

If found guilty, the companies could be fined up to $10,000 and receive other penalties for violating the Child Protection Registry Act. Michigan and Utah are the only American states that have adopted a registry law.

Sophos recommends companies automatically update their corporate virus protection, and run a consolidated solution at the email gateway to defend against viruses, spyware and spam.