Virginia Court: Spam is not Protected Speech

Virginia’s Supreme Court on Friday upheld the first US felony conviction for spamming. The spammer will serve nine years in prison for sending what authorities believe to be millions of messages over a two-month period in 2003.

Jeremy Jaynes, a North Carolina, resident made Spamhaus’ top 10 list of spammers, Jaynes was arrested in 2003, before the CAN SPAM act was passed by Congress. Jaynes was convicted in 2005, but his lawyers appealed the conviction. This past Friday, the Virginia Supreme Court upheld that conviction, but the vote was a narrow 4-3.

Over 50,000 spam e-mails were presented by the prosecution but Jaynes is thought to have sent millions per day in the summer of 2003.

The defense said that the Virginia Computer Crimes Act Violates the U.S. Constitution and specifically the right to free anonymous speech. The court said that your free speech is not protected when you are scamming the public.

The court case was a close one as there was concern about the wording of the Virginia Computer Crimes Act where it refers to unsolicited bulk electronic mail which is thought to be overbroad.

Jayne’s original sentence of nine years was upheld and here is a great article for more.

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