Electronic mail, unsolicited commercial; narrows scope of spam statute, penalty. (HB1)

Introduced By

Del. Manoli Loupassi (R-Richmond)


Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate
Signed by Governor
Became Law


Unsolicited commercial electronic mail (spam); penalty.  Narrows the scope of the existing spam statute to cover only those emails that constitute unsolicited commercial electronic mail (spam). Commercial electronic mail is defined in the bill as electronic mail, the primary purpose of which is the advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service. Spam is defined as a subset of commercial mail that is unsolicited. The definition of spam excludes emails that are transmitted by a sender to a person with whom the sender has an existing business or personal relationship.

Any person who (i) falsifies or forges the transmission or routing information of spam or (ii) knowingly sells, gives, or distributes software designed to facilitate the transmission of spam is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. The penalty for sending spam rises to a Class 6 felony if the person sends a certain volume of spam in a given time period or generates a certain amount of revenue from a spam transmission.

This bill corrects a constitutional infirmity identified in the ruling of the Virginia Supreme Court in Jaynes v. Commonwealth, 276 Va. 443 (2008). In its opinion the Supreme Court held that Virginia Code 18.2-152.3:1 (anti-spam statute) is unconstitutionally overbroad on its face because it prohibits the anonymous transmission of all unsolicited bulk emails, including those containing political, religious, or other speech protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution. Read the Bill »


Bill Has Passed


11/16/2009Assigned Courts sub: Criminal
11/16/2009Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 01/13/10 10100110D
11/16/2009Referred to Committee for Courts of Justice
11/19/2009Impact statement from VCSC (HB1)
12/11/2009Impact statement from VCSC (HB1)
01/26/2010Assigned Courts sub: Criminal
01/28/2010Assigned Courts sub: #1 Criminal
02/03/2010Subcommittee recommends reporting with amendment(s) (6-Y 0-N)
02/09/2010Impact statement from DPB (HB1)
02/10/2010Reported from Courts of Justice with substitute (22-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/10/2010Committee substitute printed 10100741D-H1
02/11/2010Impact statement from VCSC (HB1H1)
02/12/2010Read first time
02/15/2010Read second time
02/15/2010Committee substitute agreed to 10100741D-H1
02/15/2010Amendments by Delegate Loupassi agreed to
02/15/2010Engrossed by House - committee substitute with amendments HB1EH1
02/15/2010Printed as engrossed 10100741D-EH1
02/16/2010Impact statement from VCSC (HB1EH1)
02/16/2010Read third time and passed House BLOCK VOTE (99-Y 0-N)
02/16/2010VOTE: BLOCK VOTE PASSAGE (99-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/17/2010Constitutional reading dispensed
02/17/2010Referred to Committee for Courts of Justice
02/24/2010Assigned Courts sub: Criminal
03/01/2010Reported from Courts of Justice (14-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
03/01/2010Rereferred to Finance
03/03/2010Reported from Finance (12-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
03/04/2010Constitutional reading dispensed (39-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
03/05/2010Read third time
03/05/2010Passed Senate (39-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
03/12/2010Bill text as passed House and Senate (HB1ER)
03/12/2010Signed by Speaker
03/13/2010Signed by President
03/21/2010Impact statement from DPB (HB1ER)
04/11/2010G Approved by Governor-Chapter 489 (effective 7/1/10)
04/11/2010G Acts of Assembly Chapter text (CHAP0489)


This bill was discussed on the floor of the General Assembly. Below is all of the video that we have of that discussion, 2 clips in all, totaling 1 minute.


Virginia ITSP Association, tracking this bill in Photosynthesis, notes:

Commerce - Spam

Stephanie writes:

The bill is unnecessary. Email already has spam blockers. Legitimate business opportunities and advertisements will be forced out of the internet playing field. Bad idea. Think. We get "spam" in the physical mailbox. Should that be illegal? This is not problem-enough to justify adding to criminal activity.

Waldo Jaquith writes:

The sender pays for physical spam. The recipient pays for e-mail spam. None of the cost is borne by spammers, and all of it is borne by the neutral networks that bear the spam, the servers that receive it, and the individuals (like you and me) who pay for the bandwidth to download it. That's the difference, and it's a mighty big one.

94% of e-mail is spam. It's completely out of control. Those of us who run e-mail servers spend a huge amount of time fighting spam. It's very expensive, both in time and in real dollars, an enormous drain on the economy. (Imagine if ISPs could eliminate 94% of their mail server infrastructure! That would be huge!) And, of course, the overwhelming majority of it is selling products that are illegal or that are scams. Penis enlargement pills, counterfeit Viagra sold from third-world countries, porn...it's a cesspool.

This bill is deeply necessary, and I'm grateful to Del. Loupassi for introducing it.