Feeds

Virginia de-convicts AOL junk mailer Jeremy Jaynes

Overturns anti-spam law, invokes Founding Fathers

Using blade systems to cut costs and sharpen efficiencies

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. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
14 antivirus apps found to have security problems
Vendors just don't care, says researcher, after finding basic boo-boos in security software
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Israel's Iron Dome missile tech stolen by Chinese hackers
Corporate raiders Comment Crew fingered for attacks
Only '3% of web servers in top corps' fully fixed after Heartbleed snafu
Just slapping a patched OpenSSL on a machine ain't going to cut it, we're told
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.