This one nearly escaped my radar, and does not seem to have ruffled many news source feathers either. Which is surprising, because in my never humble opinion it is actually quite an important bit of news. The Virginia Court of Appeals has upheld the conviction of Jeremy Jaynes (the 8th most prolific spammer according to Spamhaus at the time of the arrest) who, way back in November 2004, was the first person in the US to get jail time for spamming. Indeed, on the double spammy whammy of distributing bulk email of ‘disguised origin’ and possessing a stolen database of some 84 million AOL subscriber details, Jaynes was sentenced to 9 years.
Of course, this did not stop his attorneys from appealing despite not actually arguing about the facts of the case. Instead, the appeals went ahead based on the somewhat spurious argument that the law that convicted Jaynes was ‘unconstitutionally vague’ which is a new one on me. Unfortunately, and rather sadly I feel, both the American Civil Liberties Union and the US Internet Service Provider Association filed what are known as ‘friend-of-the-court briefs’ in favor of the appeal!
Thankfully, the court panel disagreed with this, as well as the other grounds for appeal that included Virginia lacking jurisdiction over the matter because the emails were sent from the Jaynes home in North Carolina. The AOL servers that the spam was routed through, however, are firmly stuck in Loudon County, Virginia and the court saw enough sense to argue that there were plenty of cases where the right to charge people where the damage resulted, rather than the crime committed, were upheld.
Personally, I am glad that the Virginia Anti-Spam Act has not had its lid ripped off by this appeal, but rather the spammers given a harsh warning that the legal tide may be turning…