In America, the Virginia Supreme Court has turned down and appeal by Jeremy Jaynes, one of the world's most notorious spammers.
In 2004, Jaynes of Raleigh, North Carolina, was considered to be amongst the world’s top ten initiators of unwanted and uninitiated e-mails and was sentenced to nine years in prison following a felony conviction.
The highest court in the southern state has now affirmed the first felony conviction for illegal spamming in the United States by ruling that Virginia’s anti-spamming law does not violate free-speech rights.
‘This is a historic victory in the fight against online crime,’ said Virginia Attorney General Bob McDonnell in a written statement.
‘Spam not only clogs e-mail inboxes and destroys productivity, it also defrauds citizens and threatens the online revolution that is so critical to Virginia’s economic prosperity.’
Jaynes allegedly used aliases and false Internet addresses to bombard web users with junk e-mails with forged headers peddling sham products and services. The Court stated that misleading commercial speech is not entitled to First Amendment protection.
‘Unfortunately, the state that gave birth to the First Amendment has, with this ruling, diminished that freedom for all of us,’ Thomas Wolf, Jaynes' solicitor, told the Associated Press.
‘As three justices pointed out in dissent, the majority’s decision will have far reaching consequences. The statute criminalises sending bulk anonymous e-mail, even for the purpose of petitioning the Government or promoting religion.’
Prosecutors presented evidence of 53,000 illegal e-mails Jaynes sent over three days in July of 2003 and stated that authorities believed he was responsible for producing ten million a day in an enterprise that grossed up to $750,000 per month.
Jaynes was charged in Virginia because the e-mails went through an AOL server in Loudoun County, where America Online is based.