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Virginia - Top Spammer Challenges the Anti-Spam Law

The Virginia Supreme court has been challenged by Jeremy Jaynes against the anti-spam law. A lawyer in US for Jeremy Jaynes, who was also considered to be one of the top ten spammers, claimed that the anti-spam law of the state is a freedom of speech violation that is protected by the First Amendment.

The nation's first lawbreaking case was registered against Jaynes in 2003 for using aliases, false Internet addresses and illegal spamming for charging the email users with spam. He was sentenced to nine years in prison after found guilty.

As he had used servers located in Virginia, he was charged in that state even if he belonged to California.

Thomas Wolf, Jaynes' lawyer, told the Virginia Supreme Court that regulating spam was out of question, reported Associated Press on 12th September 2007. Wolf further added that severe criminal penalties are attached to unsolicited bulk e-mail of a non-commercial nature, which is a problem with Virginia's statute. According to Wolf, these laws could be unintentionally broken by anyone around the world by sending emails in bulk containing religious or political content, as some of the messages might possibly pass through Virginia's servers.

General William Thro, the state solicitor, however, argued that there is no violation of freedom of speech, as the law does not bar free or anonymous speech. The law regulates the unlawful acts, from forging Internet transmission and routing information, to electronically trespass a privately owned computer network, reported Associated Press on 12th September 2007. He further added that there is no constitutional right to use the property of others to engage in speech and also that using unwanted bulk mail to seize a privately owned computer network is equivalent to stealing a car and driving it to a political rally.

Jaynes's prosecutors cited an evidence of 53,000 illegal e-mails that were sent over in three days in his case in July 2003. Authorities, however, believe that million e-mails a day were spewed out by Jaynes that came up to $750,000 per month and thus, he was liable to the punishment held for unlawful acts like forging Internet routing, and using aliases etc.

But the court maintained that the statute prohibits the trespassing on personal computer networks through intentional misrepresentation and does not merit any First Amendment protection, and also that it does not prevent any anonymous speech.

Related article: Verizon Sets Alarm against New phishing E-Mails

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