The U.S. government’s national do-not-call registry provides—in theory, at least—a respite from telemarketers’ unwanted solicitations. No national equivalent exists for email, though, so many businesses—including those in the wine industry—frequently use mass emails as a means of marketing their products to and otherwise communicating with existing and prospective customers. If the customer lives in Utah or Michigan, however, sending that marketing email might be a crime.

Under Title 13, Chapter 39 of the Utah Code, a person who sends a communication containing adult content (including advertising for wine and other alcoholic beverages) to a “contact point”—including an email address or mobile phone number—that has been registered with the state’s Kids Protection Registry for at least 30 days commits a misdemeanor and is subject to a civil fine of up to $1,000. Any contact point associated with a house in which a minor is present or to which a minor has access may be registered, provided that the minor is a Utah resident. Michigan’s Children’s Protection Registry operates almost identically, although the Michigan statute sets the per-violation fine at $10,000 for the first offense and classifies repeat offenses as felonies.

Both states offer marketers the ability to check email recipient lists against their do-not-email lists—for a fee. See here for Utah’s list and here for Michigan’s.

Many readers may be thinking: “I don’t need to worry about this. I only send emails to persons who have voluntarily given me their email addresses,” such as at a special event, in a tasting room, or through a website. Such simple consent, however, may not be a defense.

In both Utah and Michigan, a wine marketer can email a registered address only if: (1) the email address is controlled by an adult; (2) the adult consents in a signed writing; (3) the marketer has verified the adult’s age through an in-person inspection of a government-issued ID card (Michigan requires a government-issued photo ID); (4) the marketer includes in each communication to that address a notice that the adult may rescind his or her consent and an unsubscribe link; and (5) the marketer notifies the state’s enforcement entity that it has the registered recipient’s consent (which notification also involves a fee).

Given the steep penalties for violations and the rather onerous consent requirements, wine industry marketers have a strong incentive to carefully scrub their recipient lists before hitting SEND.


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