A serial mass spammer has walked free after a Virginia' Supreme Court threw out his conviction on the grounds that his right to free speech – as covered by the First Amendment – was being denied to him. Jeremy Jaynes had been sentenced to nine years in jail in 2005, which was narrowly upheld by the same Supreme Court this March.
That decision was "withdrawn by the court after a petition for rehearing was granted" leading to the case being considered again. It was overturned on the basis that it placed an illegal limit on free speech. His prime victims were AOL subscribers – many of whom possessed addresses stolen from the company's database. For this reason, Jaynes went to court in Virginia, where the AOL servers are located.
Broadly speaking, Jaynes was arrested originally for being a royal pain in the a***. More specifically, he was brought to book for sending over 50,000 pieces of spam, complete with falsified headers over three days in July 2003. Some small credit should go to him for his imaginative use of made-up products, which numbered a 'penny stock picker', a FedEx refund product and, most optimistically, a 'history eraser'.
When raided, his home in Raleigh, North Carolina, was found to contain a small Pentagon's worth of computer kit and peripherals relevant to filling our inboxes with mindless guff along with email addresses for 176 million people and a further 1.3 billion email user names. It's difficult to quantify how serious a crime against humanity such spamming adds up to. While clearly not up there with mass murder, he has marginally annoyed many tens of thousands and had the capacity to continue doing so to a large chunk of the world's population.
TechRadar will let you know when we have finished calculating just how irritating that is from when we will be eager to solicit your suggestions on a suitable sentence.