Virginia threatens spammers with jail

Thursday, 1 May 2003, 12:47 AM EST

Although about half the states have anti-spam laws, no other allows authorities to seize the assets earned from spamming while imposing up to five years in prison, said Gov. Mark R. Warner.

The penalties can apply even if the sender and recipients live elsewhere because much of the global Internet traffic passes through northern Virginia, home to major online companies such as America Online and MCI and a conduit to major federal communications hubs in neighboring Washington and its suburbs.

"We want to be able to put out not only a potential criminal violation with the felony but also to seize the proceeds from this illegal activity -- their cars, boats, airplanes, homes," Warner said.

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