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February 25, 1999


By CBR Staff Writer

The General Assembly of Virginia has passed a law that would make spamming — the blanket sending of unsolicited email — a criminal offense. Governor James S Gilmour has said he will sign the new legislation, which would make spamming a misdemeanor with a $500 fine, or a felony with a maximum of five years imprisonment if the email is deemed malicious and results in over $2,500 in damage. The law will cover any spam emails sent through ISPs based in Virginia, which includes Dulles-based America Online Inc. AOL, which has made over 40 civil suits against spammers, has welcomed the legislation, but the American Civil Liberties Union is expected to challenge it on constitutional grounds. Lawmakers justify their position by claiming spamming reduces consumer confidence in the internet by flooding users with advertisements for such things as dubious get-rich-quick schemes, self-help scams and pornography.

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