IT security experts today warned firms to check their email distribution policies after legal action was taken against two companies accused of sending unsolicited emails about gambling and alcoholic drinks to children.
The Attorney General of Michigan stated that RR Media of Cathedral City, California, and Data Stream Group of Bonita Springs, Florida, sent emails with the intention of enticing children to visit gambling websites and promoting alcoholic beverages.
The messages are said to have been sent to children's email addresses registered under Michigan's Child Protection Registry Act.
The legislation 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 services and pornography).
"Children may well be more susceptible to spam campaigns than adults, so it is worrying that some of them are having to deal with alcohol, tobacco and gambling ads as part of their email experience," said Carole Theriault, senior security consultant at Sophos.
"Michigan is leading the way by taking action against this sort of activity, but the buck should not stop there.
"People and companies sending unsolicited messages need to think hard about who is receiving their messages and whether the content is appropriate."
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.
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