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
    Fascinatin, 14 Sep 2007 @ 3:55am

    lesser of two evils

    There is no essential difference between 'spam' delivered by email and 'junk mail' delivered by the USPS.

    Yet the former is punishable by 9 years in jail while the latter is protected by law and if you interfere with its delivery you can go to a federal pen!

    If you wanted to talk about actual costs to the public involved, most people (with intelligence greater than that of a grape) quickly learn to spot spam and simply delete it without ever even opening it, let alone taking time to read it first. Junk Mail, on the other hand must be physically disposed of and, even if that only means sorting it and carrying it to the nearest trash can, it requires more time and effort than getting rid of spam does. Some towns (mine) are now even demanding that junk mail be treated as recyclable material, thereby requiring even greater amounts of time and effort to get rid of it. At least I can be fairly confident that I will never have to recycle spam!

    What justification is there for protecting snail mail spam by federal law while vilifying email spam that is more easily and economically dealt with?

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