Supreme Court Upholds Virginia Antispam Law as Unconstitutional

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The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday announced it was refusing to consider re-instating a tough Virginia antispam law, effectively leaving stand a lower court’s decision that the law was overly broad and restricted speech protected under the First Amendment. The decision ends the long legal road of the 2003 law, which made it a felony to send anonymously more than 10,000 unsolicited bulk email messages in a 24-hour period. The law was also used to sentence notorious AOL spammer Jeremy James to nine years in a federal prison back in 2005—Jaynes was the first felony conviction for spamming in the United States.

The Supreme Court did not give a reason for declining to hear the case, but apparently it is comfortable with the Virginia Supreme Court’s 2008 ruling that the law violated First Amendment protections. Virginia attorney general Bill Mims has pledged to draft new antispam legislation to help protect his states’ citizens against online scammers and floods of spam messages.

Jaynes is said to have pulled in more than $24 million by sending over 10 million spam messages a day; the decision to leave the lower court ruling untouched means Jaynes’ nine-year sentence gets thrown away, although he is currently serving a 42-month sentence in prison on an unrelated fraud conviction.