Convicted Spammer Claims Anti-Spam Law Is Unconstitutional

from the well,-he-would-say-that,-wouldn't-he dept

A few years ago, the state of Virginia convicted a notorious spammer under its state anti-spam laws, and sentenced him to nine years in prison. The spammer, Jeremy Jaynes has been appealing the decision ever since, without much luck. Last year, an appeals court upheld the conviction and noted that a nine year sentence didn't seem excessive. However, it appears Jaynes is now trying a totally different route to fighting the conviction: claiming that Virginia's anti-spam law is unconstitutional. The idea is that it violates first amendment free speech rights by banning even spam that's non-commercial in nature. The state, however, is responding that the law doesn't ban any kind of speech at all -- but it does ban falsifying information in order to trespass on others' systems for the sake of advertising. There may actually be a fairly fine line that's worth distinguishing here between banning the specific kind of speech and whether or not the "speaker" is falsifying information in order to get across that speech. It seems unlikely that the courts will rule against the anti-spam law, but if it does it would be interesting to see if spammers in other states follow suit.

Filed Under: constitution, jeremy jaynes, punishment, spam, spam laws, virginia


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Sep 2007 @ 7:59am

    On a similar line of reasoning, consider the punishment for tampering with snail mail. That is a shining example of, on the surface, excessive punishment. But it is there for a reason. Imagine if you got a slap on the wrist for destroying someone else's mail. A fine perhaps. Violations would be rampant and the mail system would have fallen apart.

    Severe punishments had to be instituted. Now... people wouldnt even consider messing with someone's mail. I have known of people who receive someone else's mail and dont know what to do with it. "Should I just throw it away!?!"

    The mail system is completely reliable. The same rules have been pushed forward to email. Although there is a lot of gray area involved, mostly due to the fact that most legislators are "technologically challenged". Without strict rules and harsh punishments, the risk/reward thought process is too simple. High potential profit + low risk of punishment = "LETS SEND SOME SPAM!!!" Add some stronger punishments (such as upwards of a decade in prison) and it isnt such a simple decision anymore. You have to make a choice somewhere. Either learn to love your spam, or accept the fact that examples must be made. You cant have it both ways.

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