Ohio Legislature Passes Felony Anti-Spam Bill

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Ohio joined Maryland and Virginia in passing legislation that makes sending some types of fraudulent unsolicited commercial e-mail a felony.


Ohio's legislative houses passed the bill Tuesday. It lets the state attorney general bring felony charges against senders of unsolicited commercial e-mail that falsifies header information, uses open proxies or who use fake information to set up e-mail accounts to send commercial e-mail. The law applies to any e-mail sent to or from computers in Ohio.


The measure calls for penalties up to $8 per e-mail sent and a maximum of six months in jail. The legislation heads to Gov. Bob Taft for his approval, which is expected.


AOL has pushed for the adoption of state-level anti-spam laws that take advantage of a provision in the federal CAN-SPAM Act that lets states enact anti-spam legislation dealing with fraud.


"We know that now more than ever we need the one-two punch of federal and state legislation to go after the most egregious spammers," said Nicholas Graham, an AOL spokesman.


Similar legislation passed in Maryland in April. Virginia, in July 2003, enacted the nation's first state law making some forms of fraudulent unsolicited commercial e-mail punishable by a jail term.


Maryland has yet to prosecute anyone under its anti-spam law. Virginia last month gained a conviction against Jeremy Jaynes under its law. Jaynes was sentenced to nine years in prison. AOL assisted in the investigation.


Graham said state anti-spam laws allow state law enforcement officials to bring their own cases, rather than putting the onus of law enforcement on federal agencies.


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