RealTime IT News

Virginia Proposes Sending Spammers to Jail

A Virginia commission on Internet use has endorsed proposed legislation that would make spamming illegal and subject people who send unsolicited, bulk e- mail messages to criminal prosecution.

The state Commission on Information Technology, which includes several leading Internet company executives, endorsed a law setting out potential fines and prison terms for convicted spammers.

"This would be the first one (state law) that is explicit in criminalizing spamming" George Vradenburg, a senior vice president and general counsel with based America Online, told Reuters.

In other states, including Washington and California, spammers can be sued for damages in civil proceedings but cannot be prosecuted criminally, Vradenburg said.

Although free-speech protections have been extended to the Internet, the Virginia commission said spamming deluges online users with advertisements promoting "dubious products, pyramid schemes and pornography."

The commission, formed by Gov. James Gilmore in part to make recommendations on boosting commercial use of the Internet, said spamming should be curtailed because fraudulent e-mail threatens to undermine confidence in legitimate electronic commerce.