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. icon
    John (profile), 13 Sep 2007 @ 1:15pm

    Two points

    Two points to consider:

    1) What is a "reasonable" punishment?
    I don't know how many e-mails he send out, but let's assume it was "only" 10 million.
    What is the bandwidth cost to transmit these messages?
    Let's also assume that every one of these messages were delivered. Let's also assume that it took 5 seconds for a person to read and delete the message. This means that it took people 50 million seconds to delete the message... or over 138,888 hours to delete the messages.

    Now let's assume that the people who receive these messages make an average of $10 an hour: some make more, some make less.
    So, by these basic calculations, it cost people $1,388,880.00 to delete the messages he sent.

    And, of course, this doesn't count the cost of damage done to people when they clicked on his spam: did they get spyware, did they get a virus, did they lose their money in a stock scam, did they lose their money to a fake pharmacy, and so on.

    2) The second point is that we shouldn't feel too bad for this guy. He probably won't spend all nine years in jail and he'll probably get out early for "good behavior" (or some such).

    I would be willing to bet that, after he's released from prison, he takes a job as a "consultant" for anti-spam companies and makes a high 6-digit salary.

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