Friday, September 12, 2008

SPAM Protected Under 1st Ammendment in Virginia?

You read right.

My colleague Scott sent me an email today with this story from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which basically strikes down the law which put one of the most infamous spammers in history in the slammer for 9 years. Unbelievably, he was allowed to argue that his "email campaigns" were covered under the "freedom of speech" provisions in the US Constitution... even though his email spews were 100% commercial - how does that work?

Of course... the question is, will this reversing of the Virginia law cause a cascading failure of legal precedent up into the US Federal CAN-SPAM Act? We'll have to wait and find out I guess - but I have some additional thoughts on this topic - namely - does this have anything to do with security, or is it simply a nuisance to administrators, mailbox owners, and network managers have to learn to live with?

Interesting that arguing "freedom of speech" could reverse a law that makes it illegal to send unsolicited, commercial email to random people.

My favorite quote of the article is this one... from the ruling itself.
The Virginia law “is unconstitutionally overbroad on its face because it prohibits the anonymous transmission of all unsolicited bulk e-mails, including those containing political, religious or other speech protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution,” Justice G. Steven Agee wrote. because the law prohibits the transmittal of *any* type of unsolicited email (including religious and political emails) it means that the law in whole is unconstitutional.

--Thanks Scotty... interesting development indeed.


JB said...

This seems perfectly sound to me.

'Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech...'

Anonymous said...

Does josh have free incoming text messages on his cell phone? Would josh mind me signing him up for 100,000 text messages a day? Don't worry, they are all from Nigerian princes and medications to improve your standing in the sight of women!

What? You don't feel it is appropriate to compare email spam with text message spam? Why not, both are free speech, right?

JB said...

I actually feel that the comparison is appropriate and both forms of speech would be protected under the first amendment. That doesn't mean I want my phone blown up with text messages, and if I did I would expect the provider to be able to do something.

So, point taken, SPAM is annoying. However, while SPAM might be annoying thing that we all would rather not deal with, that doesn't just give the government authority it doesn't have. Just my .02..