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Politech is the oldest Internet resource devoted to politics and technology. Launched in 1994 by Declan McCullagh, the mailing list has chronicled the growing intersection of law, culture, technology, and politics. Since 2000, so has the Politech web site.

Brad Templeton on weird Utah, Michigan laws and problems for mailing lists

Previous Politech message:

Think of how this affects Politech. When the laws go into effect on 
August 1, what happens if I send off-color material to the list (hey, it 
happens) and an email address of a Politech subscriber is on Michigan's 
list? Could I get criminally prosecuted? There seems to be a defense to 
conviction in the Michigan law but not necessarily in the Utah one.

I'm hardly alone among list owners either. People haven't been paying 
attention and, technically, could soon be criminals.


-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: [Politech] Weekly column: Utah, Michigan e-mail laws spell 
trouble for senders [fs]
Date: Mon, 27 Jun 2005 10:19:09 -0700
From: Brad Templeton <btm@templetons.com>
Organization: http://www.templetons.com/brad
To: Declan McCullagh <declan@well.com>

To my mind we need not even get to the question of whether these laws
violate the 1st amendment.  I remain shocked that all the state E-mail
laws have not been struck down on commerce clause grounds.

Inherent in E-mail for most people is you don't know what state you
are sending a mail to, or if you are sending it within the USA at all.
In fact I happen to know that the state for Mr. McCullah will shortly
change, as it does frequently for many people.

These laws change that by creating a requirement that you know what
state you are mailing, and then learn, and obey the e-mail laws of
that state.   Or, I suppose, learn, know and obey simultaneously the
sometimes contradictory laws of all 50 states and all nations of
the world.

Whether you love or hate the state laws, having so many different
regimes of e-mail law is so clearly untenable I am amazed it hasn't
been struck down yet.     A law like this one could be federal, and
then we could talk about its first amendment implications.

Posted by Declan McCullagh on Jun 28, 2005 in category free-speech

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