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Court: Virginia Anti-Spam Law Unconstitutional

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By Admin on September 16, 2008 9:23 AM

Virginia's highest court has ruled that a state law prohibiting the mass sending of unsolicited emails ("spam") is an overly broad restriction on free speech, a decision that overturns the criminal conviction of a North Carolina man once known as one of the country's most notorious spammers.

In 2004, Jeremy Jaynes was convicted and sentenced to nine years in prison based on charges that, on three separate occasions, he sent more than 10,000 unsolicted emails to America Online subscribers over a 24-hour period, a violation of the "unsolicited bulk email" provision of the Virginia Computer Crimes Act. On Friday, the Virginia Supreme Court struck down the law, ruling that it is "unconstitutionally overbroad on its face because it prohibits the anonymous transmission of all unsolicited bulk e-mails including those containing political, religious or other speech protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution." The decision reverses Jaynes's conviction, which in 2004 was the first felony spam conviction in the U.S., according to the Washington Post.