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Virginia Arrests Man for Spam

By Julio Franco · 42 replies
Dec 12, 2003
  1. Virginia authorities said on Thursday they had arrested and charged a North Carolina man for sending "spam" e-mail in the first use of a new state law that could bring penalties of up to 20 years in prison.

    Read more: Yahoo News.
  2. StormBringer

    StormBringer TS Rookie Posts: 2,244

    20 year, hmm, guess thats a start, though I've push for much stiffer penalties(/me mumbles something about pliers and a blowtorch)
    This is definately what it is going to take to cut down on the amount of spam that fills our inbox every day. I don't see it really being any more effective than any other laws are, but it will likely be enough to stop some of these slimeballs, which would be that much less junk to deal with.
  3. young&wild

    young&wild TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 993

    I personally wouldn't mind to see spammers going for a longer sentence. Their selfish and irresponsible acts account for a major part of internet traffic. Spam is a waste of time when its comes to sorting your mailbox. Just hope this charges will make spammers think twice.
  4. Qun Mang

    Qun Mang TS Rookie

    20 years seems like quite a long time for sending spam considering some violent felons get mere months in prison. Sure, I don't mind seeing spammers getting tossed in prison as I hate spam as much as others, but sentences should be fair. Rather, jail time should be a year max for each offense plus huge fines that cancel out all profit gained plus more.
  5. agrav8r

    agrav8r TS Rookie Posts: 103

    Well I am not going to start a flame war, but our society has some pretty messed up issues. 20 years for spam, but you can kill a baby being born and were ok with that, as long as it doesn't personally affect us.
    Sorry and no need to reply to my comment, i am not going to change your mind and you mine, so ......
  6. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,729   +409

    I know what you are saying, and I also see that by your "no need to reply" thing you are just hoping to get your statement out and then run and hide - thats just lame and pisses people off.

    First off I'm going to say that spammers shoudln't be sent to jail for 20 years. People fail to look at this realistically and I have no idea why that happens.
    point 1 - spam is not THAT BAD come on now guys, you spend a few seconds a day decidign whether to read something or not, if not you delete it, its over, done.
    point 2 - spam hasn't really ever hurt you unless you are dumb enough to believe whatever you see on informercials
    point 3 - we are going to send people to jail for spam? yet at this identical time the majority of the people are against the death penalty.
    well I'll tell you what - I'd rather get SPAM filtered by my already in use SPAM filter (and delete it later) than have my tax money supporting some do0d that didn't do anything with his life and is now getting free food and housing. While I, at the same time, am struggling to get a master's degree and pay my heating bill.

    Overall point - get a spam filter, have it filter the stuff you don't want, delete the stuff you don't want after its filtered automatically and be done with it. Everyone is getting pissed off about something that is fairly controllable.
  7. MrGaribaldi

    MrGaribaldi TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 2,512

    SNGX, you pretty well summed up my feelings...

    At first glance of Julio's post, I thought "w00t, finally something that'll curb the menace spam has become", but then I started to think a bit about it...
    20 years is a way too long punishment for spamming. And the wrong way of handling the problem imo.

    Instead of, as you say, giving someone free food and housing (though not as nice as (s)he'd have otherwise), why not give them huge fines? Let them pay in cash for what they've done, with a fine of around 100$ for each message sendt... Now that I'd imagine would remove most, if not all, of the incentives for spamming.
    But an alternative to fines could also be put in place. How about community work, cleaning toilets, removing tags and the likes for 45000 hours instead? (That's aprox 3 years)

    And let's not stop there, but also fine the companies adverticing with spam. If a company were to be fined 50-250 000$ (or higher) for adverticing using spam, chances are that fewer, if any, company would use spam. It would be too costly, and give the company way too negative PR.

    Just some ideas that I think will be a better solution than regular prison sentences.
  8. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,729   +409

    He has yet to reply to this thread.
  9. Strakian

    Strakian TS Rookie Posts: 136

    I was all for the spammer in jail thing, but now, I feel more enlightened and opinionated about the whole thing. SNGX makes a very good point about 20 years and using our tax dollars to put this slimer in the slammer... I also dig the fine idea... but realistically I don't think America knows what it's doing with this whole fighting spam thing. It's kinda like Bush's war on terrorism... at no point is the president going to sit down in his chair with a beer and go 'we won'.

    Know what I mean?

    Also, this is kinda like fining 12 year old girls from NY for downloading a BS (Britany Spears) album... oh wait, that happened. :rolleyes:
  10. poertner_1274

    poertner_1274 secroF laicepS topShceT Posts: 4,172

    I was wondering the same thing, but I'll reply now :)

    You know storm said this is what we need to get a start on cracking down on spam, but I'm not sure how much affect it will have on people. It is kind of like the RIAA trying to cut down on piracy, they have sued countless people over their issues, and there are still a LOT of people who use P2P software to get songs. I think it will help, but there is NO way it will even start to eliminate the problem IMO.

    But I hope I am wrong, and people begin to realize what a pain in the butt spam is and simply stop sending it.
  11. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Posts: 5,734   +7

    Can't he just get the death penalty?


    Poertner is EVERYWHERE! Kind of like God.

  12. UncleGemboel

    UncleGemboel TS Rookie Posts: 36

    20 years for spam? I thinks it's too long, well i don't really know how Virginian law works, but to me that too heavy for just spam, i mean many other crime much more deserve it.
    yes, law in my country sucks so i can't say anything about this, just in my opinion, it's too long.

    to Phantasm66, what r u thinking for giving death penalty for spammer, this is a joke, right?
  13. poertner_1274

    poertner_1274 secroF laicepS topShceT Posts: 4,172

    I think they are trying to make a point with this guy. Showing what will happen if you are involved with sending spam. That is how the law works with their first 'victim' of a new crime. They throw the book at them and try to get them with as much damage as possible. Thus showing others what the consequences are, and hopefully making them change their mind about spamming people.

    Yes I believe Phantasm is kidding, that comment was more directed toward me. No worries mate :)
  14. Vehementi

    Vehementi TechSpot Paladin Posts: 2,704

    I heard on NPR that they got 2 guys in West Virginia? Did they get both or is this just a media inconsistency?

    I don't agree with the jail time either, I think there should be massive fines for the spammer and the company advertising as well.
  15. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Posts: 5,734   +7

    Did you not notice the ;) that I placed at the end of my sentence?
  16. MrGaribaldi

    MrGaribaldi TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 2,512

    Sngx, sorry, I meant of course you (as you can see in my edited post)... Besides, sometimes it's quite hard to tell the two of you apart ;) :D

    Poertner (and this time I'm not writing the wrong nick)> Isn't throwing the book at someone the first time, just to send a message, the wrong thing to do?
    I can understand that by giving someone the maximum penalty when a new law is implemented is sending a message to the rest of society that doing this (spamming) is a bad thing, and will be punished severly.
    But doesn't it also risk giving of a punishment that is way to big for the crime commited? What about the next case where the guy had spammed 100 million people every day for 4 years? (just an example)
    Shouldn't be be punished harder than the one who'd only spammed 1 million people in a year?

    I'm not quite sure if I like the way you implement new laws in the US if you give the highest possible punishment whenever a new law is implemented, no matter if it way to severe compared to the crime commited.....
  17. poertner_1274

    poertner_1274 secroF laicepS topShceT Posts: 4,172

    I'm not saying that this is the way it is done for sure (I am not very politically inclined) but I know they are always harder on the first person to set an example basically. It's just the way it works unfortunately. And I agree with you that there should be different levels of punishment for the severity of the crime, but in this case I am sick of spam so my personal thinking is that I want this to be severe so people understand the consequences and hopefully turn away from doing it. But that is just me :blush:
  18. agrav8r

    agrav8r TS Rookie Posts: 103

    I actually wanted to be polite as this is a COMPUTER related forum and not an anti- abortion forum, if that is concidered lame let us debate the issue. I didn't wnat to go off topic, but if that is typically accepted here, unlike every other forum I have visited, then by all means , lets dance :rolleyes:
  19. MoRulez

    MoRulez TS Rookie Posts: 65

    Those are some excellent ideas MrGaribaldi. But don't you think there are similarities between the mp3 problem and spam-sending?

    Both are supposedly unethical/illegal, yet people get away with it still. Threat or no threat. Sure the RIAA's threats and crackdowns have supposedly decreased the transmission of mp3s, but it definitely didn't (maybe will never) stop it. And then in comes oversea issues, like programs that are foreign-based, in a country with varying laws. I can see the spam-sending moving overseas as well.
  20. poertner_1274

    poertner_1274 secroF laicepS topShceT Posts: 4,172

    People get away with it because it is WAY too broad of a problem to target everyone. They can only deal with the large users right now. If they get that under control I'm sure they will target the smaller ones as well because they have nothing better to do than to bug people about pirating music.

    It's the same way for spam, I'm sure they are going to go after the companies or individuals who do it more than others, but then again they might not. That's just the way I would do it if it was me.
  21. StormBringer

    StormBringer TS Rookie Posts: 2,244

    I would like you all to stop for a minute and think about all the spam you get, and how many of those have made you buy a product. If you are like me, its probably made you decide on a different brand than the one in the ad, or if it were spam for a general merchant, you probably make extra effort not to shop there. Now think about this, spam is advertising, it must have some effectiveness, or else they wouldn't use it. Instead of moaning and whining till we are blue in the face, and arguing about the best law that will do no good anyway, why not just stop buying the crap. Someone must be buying it and clicking those links, else I don't think spammers would waste their time if they didn't get results.
  22. Strakian

    Strakian TS Rookie Posts: 136

    You caught me! I'm the one buying 3 years worth of testicular enhancers! Damn you all! :D

    (i'm of course joking)
  23. poertner_1274

    poertner_1274 secroF laicepS topShceT Posts: 4,172

    Very good point Storm, I think every piece of spam I have ever gotten has been crap for the most part, but once in a while I do get a decent one for a store or a product, and I am like you, I delete it before looking at it, and will tend to buy a different product simply because they pissed me off with their spam. But that is just the way I am, if I go to a store and am treated like crap chances are I won't go back to that store unless I absolutely have to. I'm hard headed like that, so...
  24. BrownPaper

    BrownPaper TS Rookie Posts: 407

    the article did not say he was going to get 20 years in prison; that was just the maximum sentence. with a lesser sentence and a decent lawyer, he'd probably get a year in prison if he was convicted.

    the more annoying thing about spam, other than how it floods internet traffic, is that a lot of the claims are fraudulent. how realistic is losing 30 pounds in one week. for all i know, some of these ads can be big scams. i feel sorry for the person naive enough to put their credit card info on some form that came from spam. the authorities should go after not only the spammers but also some of the practices from these companies that use spam.
  25. Crazy

    Crazy TS Rookie Posts: 139

    First of all, sending spammers to jail for 20years is just a no go.
    Sending them to jail ofcourse for 3years max(depending on how mutch spam was send) and a very very very large fine. Because it must pay very good the spam busness(we get allot so it must pay off).

    Like was said before, spam isn't the end of the world, just get a spam filter and allot will be solved(and delete what gets past the filter).

    Some people indeed think what is said in the mail is true, i have a very good example of a person(not going to mention name).
    The person in question got a letter witch stated (s)he had to show up for a inquiry and than won a prize of 25000€, as you can fiel this is bs. But yes there are stupid people on this planet and spam works with those people.

    I know that person very good and (s)he never learns, the person keeps ordering things ect ect (is in very high debts).

    To fight the spam industry, they have to cope with the same problems as the strougle against illegal mp3's. Hell you just have to set up a server on some remote island and they have to make allot of effort to catch you.
    As long as gouverments cant work togeterh there will be spam.

    If you get spam in your mail box, is it that bad??? as long that it arn't 10+ mails a day i dont really care mutch.
    Just delete them even faster then i got them.

    Well that was my prespective on the matter

    Greets Crazy

    Edited by Poertner_1274: Please watch language on the boards.
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