AOL's Anti-Spam Lawsuit Ousted by Virginia Judge

02 January 2004

83% of Americans Will Sign-Up to 'Do Not Spam' List.

Chief Judge Claude Hilton at the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia declined to hear the case brought by America Online against a group of alleged spammers from Florida, ruling that the state of Virginia has no jurisdiction over the defendants.

Judge Hilton said that neither AOL's domicile in Virginia nor the fact that the offending spam had been transmitted via its computers gave the company the right to sue non-Virginians in the state's courts.

Over fifty percent of all worldwide internet traffic passes through Virginia via AOL and 1,300 other ISPs sited within the state.

Crowed defense attorney Seth Berenzweig: "The decision will impact all lawsuits brought in Virginia against out-of-state defendants for sending spam e-mail."

But the internet colossus isn't giving up that easily. AOL spokesman Nicholas Graham gave notice that the company will amend its suit: "This ruling … does nothing to prevent these defendants from being sued in Florida, where they live," he warned.

• Meantime five in every six Americans say they will register on the 'do not spam' list recently facilitated by new legislation in Congress [WAMN: 18-Dec-03]. Effective January 1, this gives the Federal Trade Commission legal authority to set-up such a list.

According to the US arm of Aegis Group's market research unit Synovate, women are more eager than men to rid themselves of spam. The firm's data indicates that "88% of females are extremely or very likely to register compared to 78% of males".

Overall: "Eighty-three percent of Americans are either extremely or very likely to register for the list making it more popular than the telemarketing ‘do-not-call list' launched back in October’, said Andrew Davidson, Synovate's vp of Competitive Tracking for Financial Services Practice.

"On average, Americans get a staggering 155 unsolicited emails in their personal or work email accounts each week with 20% receiving 200 or more’, reports Davidson.

Data sourced from: USA Today and Daily Research News Online; additional content by WARC staff