Court Changes Mind, Strikes Down Anti-Spam Law

The Virginia Supreme Court agreed to reconsider its original judgment on the state’s anti-spam law, which made it illegal to send email using an anonymous email address or IP address. Their new decision: prohibiting anonymously sent emails is a violation of the First Amendement.

The court noted that “were the ‘Federalist Papers’ just being published today via e-mail, that transmission by Publius would violate the [current Virginia] statute.”

The real problem with the statute is that it’s overbroad, said the court, and it can’t simply be reworded. We assume this means the state legislature will have to start over, and this time limit the statute to “commercial or fraudulent e-mail, or to unprotected speech such as pornography or defamation.”

This is one of those feel-bad judgments—ultimately we agree with the court that the law needs to be more specific in order to limit its power, but in the meantime this means that spam king Jeremy Jaynes, who had been sentenced to 9 years in prison in 2004 under the newly enacted law, is now free to resume spamming until a new, better worded statute can be drafted.

“Va. Supreme Court Strikes Down State’s Anti-Spam Law” [Washington Post] (Thanks to Michael!)
(Photo: Getty)

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