Michigan and Utah aimed to protect children from objectional email content with their new "Child Protection Registry" laws, initially scheduled to take effect on August 1st, 2005. Problem is, these new state laws are fraught with security and compliance issues that likely will increase spam for children -- not slow it. Plus, as usual, this will harm legitimate businesses only (both in terms of time and money), but won't touch spammers who ignore laws anyway.
This article in USA Today agrees: http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/computersecurity/2005-08-21-email-children_x.htm
First, let me say I love the idea of being able to protect minors from email content regarding alcohol, tobacco, porn etc., because we all know they see too much of it these days -- and the web is at least partially to blame. Such is the idea behind the laws, and a stance against them clearly would be a tough platform for a legislator to defend. However, the implementation of them in MI and UT make it more likely that a spammer could get hold of a "children only" email list by "cleaning" a spamlist against the registry. So this law doesn't win on a security basis.
Second, the law also has failings on the basis of expense. Currently a mailer wanting to comply with these laws will spend 1.2 cents for each record on their file to scrub their list against both the MI and UT laws. This process would need to be repeated every 30 days. That means a company with even a modest-sized list of 100,000 names would spend $1,200 per month cleaning their list against the registry. Strike 2 on economics.
Finally, we have to look at the law from a legal standpoint. CAN-SPAM preempts any state law that has anything to do with spam or email. So, these laws should be preempted by CAN-SPAM. Strike 3.
With that said, compliance is now required as of 8/15 in Utah and is pending in Michigan. My recommendation for now is to comply if you are sending (or linking to) content minors shouldn't see. We are making tools available to our clients to do so since we may be living with these laws for some time.
The right way to reduce spam for kids? Get behind email authentication technologies...