Feeds

Virginia de-convicts AOL junk mailer Jeremy Jaynes

Overturns anti-spam law, invokes Founding Fathers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

Notorious American AOL spammer Jeremy Jaynes had his nine year federal prison sentence overturned today, when Virginia's high court ruled the state's tough "anti-spam" law violates the First Amendment right to free speech.

The court unanimously agreed Virginia's anti-spam law is "unconstitutionally overbroad" because it bans all unsolicited bulk email with false or misleading originating addresses, both commercial and noncommercial.

The law considers unsolicited bulk email a felony if more than 10,000 recipients are mailed in a 24-hour period.

Justice Steven Agee wrote in today's ruling that the state law violates "the right to engage in anonymous speech, particularly anonymous political or religious speech" protected by the First Amendment.

Agee added that "were the Federalist Papers just being published today via e-mail, that transmission by PubliAus would violate the statute."

"Publius" was used as a pseudonym in 1787 and 1788 by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay to argue for ratification of the US Constitution.

Jaynes, a resident of North Carolina, was convicted in 2004 of three counts of junk email offenses by spamming tens of thousands of AOL users by means of a stolen database containing around 100 million addresses. He was once rated as the eighth worst spammer in the world by the anti-spam firm Spamhouse and is the first American to be convicted of a felony for sending unsolicited bulk email.

Because his spamming campaign flooded AOL's servers, Jaynes was prosecuted in Virginia, where the internet provider is headquartered.

In 2005, Jaynes was sentenced to nine years in prison under Virginia's anti-spam law. Prosecutors claimed Jaynes made nearly $24 million in sales from his spamming operation.

His conviction was affirmed by a Virginia Appeals Court decision in 2006 when it determined trespassing on private computer networks through intentional misrepresentation merited no First Amendment protection.

Virginia Attorney General Bob McDonnell told the AP he was disappointed the state Supreme Court overturned both previous rulings and said he would take the issue to the US Supreme Court.

Even if Virginia's anti-spam law is invalidated, Jaynes's commercial spam would still violate the federal CAN-SPAM Act. However, the law cannot apply to Jaynes because it was adopted after the emails in question were sent. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
SMASH the Bash bug! Apple and Red Hat scramble for patch batches
'Applying multiple security updates is extremely difficult'
Shellshock: 'Larger scale attack' on its way, warn securo-bods
Not just web servers under threat - though TENS of THOUSANDS have been hit
Apple's new iPhone 6 vulnerable to last year's TouchID fingerprint hack
But unsophisticated thieves need not attempt this trick
Hackers thrash Bash Shellshock bug: World races to cover hole
Update your gear now to avoid early attacks hitting the web
Oracle SHELLSHOCKER - data titan lists unpatchables
Database kingpin lists 32 products that can't be patched (yet) as GNU fixes second vuln
Who.is does the Harlem Shake
Blame it on LOLing XSS terroristas
Researchers tell black hats: 'YOU'RE SOOO PREDICTABLE'
Want to register that domain? We're way ahead of you.
Stunned by Shellshock Bash bug? Patch all you can – or be punished
UK data watchdog rolls up its sleeves, polishes truncheon
prev story

Whitepapers

A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.