Virginia Supreme Court Changes Its Mind: Anti-Spamming Law Is Unconstitutional

from the on-second-thought... dept

Well, here's a surprise. Just a few months ago, the Virginia Supreme Court ruled that the state's anti-spamming law was constitutional. The case involved Jeremy Jaynes, who was convicted under the law and sentenced to nine years in prison. He appealed, claiming that the law was unconstitutional. As we noted when the Va. Supreme Court ruling came down, there were some big questions raised by the split court in determining whether this really was a violation of free speech rights -- and Jaynes' lawyers convinced the court to rehear the case -- and, in a rather surprising move, the court has changed its mind.

The court has ruled that the anti-spamming law is, in fact, unconstitutional, as it's a restriction on free speech. As we noted after the original ruling, it still seems like Jaynes could be brought up on charges of fraud, trespass, identity fraud, false advertising and many other charges, but for now, it appears that Virginia's anti-spam law has been judged to go too far.

Declan McCullagh has a good analysis of why this is probably the right decision, even if it's personally distasteful to let a spammer off.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    eleete, Sep 12th, 2008 @ 7:05pm

    Not to be a grammar nazi

    movie = move

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Sep 12th, 2008 @ 7:21pm

    Re: Not to be a grammar nazi

    Oops. Thanks. Fixed.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    31337, Sep 13th, 2008 @ 12:05am

    Re: Not to be a grammar nazi

    You're not being a grammar nazi.
    You're being a typo nazi :)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    icon
    entropy (profile), Sep 13th, 2008 @ 9:00am

    How did possible unconstitutional aspects affect the case?

    It does not seem that they did, however, I'd have thought the spammer would have been prosecuted for fraud, etc. first, if the charges had been separated.

    I can't personally understand what this has to do with free speech; freedom of speech doesn't mean one gets to yell in my ear, or dump things in my inbox, or abuse networks. I'd say that unsolicited bulk emailing of the Federalist Papers would be spam as well, even if I might enjoy a free electronic copy of such. I don't think political or religious orgs should be able to email me, either, or have access to my email address in the first place. If I gave my consent, wittingly or not, at some point, then it is my own problem. Harvesting or random generation of email addresses is, however, complete BS.

    I don't know, they may want to change the wording of the statute, but I don't see a whole lot that is wrong with it. I do have an open mind, though.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 13th, 2008 @ 10:17am

    So...

    ... can I have the email addresses of these judges? I have... umm... *a few* emails to send them...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Ortzinator, Sep 13th, 2008 @ 11:44am

    I hate the way you guys link things. I never know what I'm clicking on.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Sep 13th, 2008 @ 1:29pm

    I hate the way you guys link things. I never know what I'm clicking on.

    Can you clarify? We tend to go with a pretty straightforward practice: we link to the operative descriptive phrase. Short links often go back to earlier posts to fill in background. Longer links are offsite to the main point of the story.

    If it's still confusing, you can look at the status bar with your mouse over the link to know where the link goes.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 14th, 2008 @ 2:31pm

    The way they link is pretty straight forward. Is it that you simply don't understand the concept of contextual linking? That you expect it to summarize the link or something?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 15th, 2008 @ 6:13am

    Re: How did possible unconstitutional aspects affect the case?

    "Harvesting or random generation of email addresses is, however, complete BS."

    Seems to me it depends on how its done. Since its most often done by simply spidering the web, I have a hard time seeing how collecting publicaly available information, posted on a public network, could be illegal?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 15th, 2008 @ 6:16am

    Re: Virginia is for lovers

    Yeah Virginia is the only state with antiquated sodemy laws still on the books . . .

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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