A bill meant to keep pornography, gambling, alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drug ads off Missouri children’s phones and computers has been considered by a Senate committee.
Senator David Sater’s bill (SB 179) would establish the Missouri Child Protection Registry – a no call list for minors. Michigan and Utah have already adopted this type of legislation.
Michigan Child Protection Registry spokeswoman Alisha Meneely says not only is she speaking in favor of of the registry, but also as a mom.
“These are products that minors legally cannot purchase in the first place, so they shouldn’t be receiving any advertisements,” said Meneely. “We know how vulnerable teens and tweens are to advertisements like these.”
Meneely says the program has been very successful in Michigan and Utah. She estimates that they have close to a million contact points between the two states and the program has increased revenue.
Sater says adult marketers would have to “scrub” their lists against the registry once a month.
“Entities that sell these products would have to scrub their list with the registry,” said Sater. “There would be a charge of 7/10 of one cent for these companies to scrub their list.”
Sater says that money is designated to go into a child protection fund in order to pay for the registry. He says there would be no cost to the state.
Gaming industry lobbyist Jim Durham spoke in opposition of the bill. He says 33 million people have bought Grand Theft Auto 5, which can be played online, and many of those fans have already registered to receive emails.
“Even if only 10-percent of these people have given us their email address, that’s 3 million email addresses we would have to scrub, that’s a costs of 31,500 dollars,” said Durham.
Sater says the registry doesn’t apply to the gaming industry, but Durham argues that sex and drugs are part of the storyline in Grand Theft Auto 5 and says Sater’s bill does not clearly define what type of advertising is prohibited.
Motion Picture Association of America lobbyist Jennifer Durham had similar concerns about those who have already signed up to receive emails. She said some movie trailers could have content that violates the bill.
Violators could face fines and possible jail time.
Missouri Kids First Deputy Director Emily van Schenkhof spoke in favor of Sater’s bill.
“Adults have a role in protecting children and it’s up to adults to place protective barriers between children and adults who may want to exploit or hurt them,” said van Schenkhof.
Parents, guardians, or schools, would be able to register a child’s phone number, email, or instant messenger ID with The Department of Public Safety.