In the toughest move to date against unsolicited commercial e-mail, the US state of Virginia enacted a law Tuesday imposing harsh felony penalties for sending such messages to computer users through deceptive means.
The law would be enforced against those who use fraudulent practices to send bulk e-mail, commonly known as spam, to or from Virginia, a state that is headquarters for a number of major Internet providers, including the nation's largest, America Online.
The new statute adds criminal penalties for fraudulent, high-volume spammers. It outlaws practices such as forging the return address line of an e-mail message or hacking a computer to send spam surreptitiously. Those found guilty of sending more than 10,000 such deceptive e-mail messages in one day would be subject to a prison term of one to five years and forfeiture of profits and assets connected with these activities.
Virginia Gov. Mark R. Warner said the new law could have a significant effect on spam because half of all Internet traffic flows through the state. The passage of e-mail through Virginia-based Internet service providers, he said, gives state prosecutors the ability to reach the purveyors of spam in other states and jurisdictions, noting that an earlier, weaker state anti-spam law had survived constitutional challenges.
"Many spammers see the current system that imposes civil fines as just a cost of doing business," Warner said. "We hope we will see some high-profile prosecutions. If someone faces a jail sentence and a major forfeiture of assets, it will serve as a deterrent."
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News source: c|net