On Friday the Virginia Supreme Court threw out the state's anti-spam law, and with it the 2004 conviction of large-scale spammer Jeremy Jaynes, on the grounds of First Amendment overbreadth. While not disagreeing that Jaynes was guilty as charged and convicted, they found that the law could place too great a burden on non-commercial speech. CAUCE president John Levine commented in this blog entry.
While CAUCE is dismayed at this outcome, we see little practical effect beyond this single case. This case predates the Federal CAN SPAM law, which does not have the First Amendment issues of the Virginia law, which would clearly apply if Jaynes were to do the same things today he did in 2003. Nor do the other state anti-spam laws have similar overbreadth issues. CAUCE believes that it is possible to create more effective anti-spam laws than the weak CAN SPAM without running afoul of First Amendment issues and will continue to work to help pass them.