Registry protects children from adult-oriented messages

By: April Lehmbeck | Advertiser Times | Published September 2, 2015


METRO DETROIT — The state is working to get the word out about a program that works much like the well-known Do Not Call Registry to protect children from adult-oriented messages via electronic devices.

Many young children have their own email addresses or cellphones, which means they can be exposed to various text messages or emails with advertising meant for adults.

The Michigan Legislature created the Protect MI Child Registry in 2004 as a way for parents to block these types of messages by listing email addresses, cellphone numbers, fax numbers and messenger identifications to the registry.

“These particular companies are now texting their advertisements to any cell number they can find,” Alisha Meneely, community outreach coordinator for Protect MI Child, said in an email.

With teens posting their numbers in various places online, cellphone numbers end up sold to vendors who use numbers for promoting adult-oriented activities like pornography or e-cigarettes.

While the registry was created several years ago, there wasn’t much done to get the word out to families about the free registry. When Gov. Rick Snyder took office, he reportedly was looking into information from various state departments, discovered information about the registry and wanted to do something with it.

Meneely has been working to promote the registry, and the Secretary of State’s Office will be working to get the word out.

“The Child Protection Registry will be a great tool for Michigan families to protect children from adult-themed messages,” Fred Woodhams, with the Michigan Department of State’s Communications Office, said in an email. “The phone numbers, email addresses and instant messenger IDs help prevent children from being exposed to ads for alcohol, tobacco and online gambling, among other inappropriate topics.”

Meneely said the secretary of state would be talking about the registry in coming weeks.

“Once she starts talking about it, I think it’s really going to start to grow,” Meneely said.

While promoted as a way to protect children from inappropriate messages, the registry is open to any email addresses and numbers, not just those of children.

The registry currently is running in Michigan and Utah. Between the two states, they have more than a million contact points on the registries. That is before Michigan launched this new public awareness drive, which officials hope will draw more parents looking to protect their children through the registry.

“We’d like it to become like the do-not-call list, and we’d like it to be in every state,” Meneely said.

Registration on the list lasts for three years, and addresses and numbers are protected and never given to outside companies, according to information from the state.

If someone receives an inappropriate message after signing up, they should send a report to the Division of Consumer Protection to report those who are not complying with the law.

To sign up for the Michigan Child Protection Registry, visit Residents can post all of their numbers and addresses to the registry. After registering, people also can notify friends of the registry via email.