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State unveils new tool to protect children on Internet

Utah parents now have a new tool to protect their children on the Internet. Attorney General Mark Shurtleff and Former State Representative Mike Styler demonstrated today how the state's new Child Protection Registry will keep adult-oriented email messages from children's computers.

"The registry is a lot like the "Do-Not-Call List." Basically it's giving parents the ability to say 'Do not send porn to my children,'" says Shurtleff.

Starting July 15, parents have been able to place their child's email address on the registry. Utah is the second state in the nation to launch this type of program, Michigan started its registry on July 1.

Here's how it works: Businesses that use e-mail to advertise sexually-oriented products will be required to scrub their lists of any email addresses included in the registry. These "e-marketers" will have to delete the addresses every 30 days to remain in compliance with Utah law. Hundreds of businesses, representing billions of messages sent each day, have already stated they will comply with Michigan and Utah registry laws. In Utah, the companies will be required to be in compliance by August 15.

Utah's registry is state supported but taxpayer dollars will not be used to pay for the service. Funding will be provided by fees paid by the same e-marketing companies that are required to remove the email addresses from their lists. In Utah, this fee is half of one cent for every name on the e-marketer's list.

Unspam Technologies, a Utah-based company, pioneered the technology that encrypts the emails to ensure security and anonymity for everyone registered on the list. The company is providing the service for both Utah and Michigan.

"The technology utilized was created to stand up not only to threats from external hackers but also rogue employees or careless practices," says Ben Dahl, co-founder of Unspam Technologies. "We are confident in the security of the registered email addresses."

Dahl says each email address on the registry will be identified by a "one-way hash," which will be similar to a fingerprint. The registry will not store the actual email address, just the hash, so outsiders will never be able to identify the person providing the address.

Former Representative Styler sponsored the bill to create the registry during the 2004 legislative session. He says he wanted to give parents the ability to fight back against companies that were targeting children with sexually oriented emails.

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