Anti Spam Conviction Upheld by High Virginia Court

Jeremy Jaynes, a felony convict, will serve nine years in prison for sending millions of illegal spam messages in 2003.

Spamming itself is not illegal. It is allowed under the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003. However, the law prohibits the use of false or misleading message headers and deceptive subject lines. It basically requires a way to opt-out, a valid postal address, and that the message is identified as an advertisement.

When police searched Jaynes’ home, they found a cache of CDs containing 176 million full e-mail addresses and 107 million AOL e-mail addresses, according to the court’s ruling.

Virginia prosecutors estimated Jaynes’ net worth to be about $24 million. In 2004, when the initial verdict was handed down, prosecutors said Jaynes was earning $500,000 per month from spamming. Jaynes’ conviction was the first felony conviction in the U.S. for illegal spamming.

Jeremy Jaynes was convicted of falsifying message headers and message routing information under the Virginia Computer Crimes Act, which contains prohibitions similar to CAN-SPAM. Jaynes appealed his conviction by asserting that his activities were protected by commerce laws and the First Amendment.

“In the realm of legitimate commercial transactions, true identification of the market participant would seem to be the norm, not the transmission of e-mails with false identification,” the ruling said.