In the latest offensive in the stateside war on unsolicited commercial emailing, the state of Virginia is threatening so-called 'spammers' with jail.

Although other states have anti-spam measures, the new law in Virginia is by far the toughest, allowing authorities to imprison offenders for up to five years and seize their assets. The legislation kicks-in when a marketer sends more than 10,000 messages in a day or earns over $1,000 from one such burst of email.

The law has implications beyond the state borders, since it applies to internet traffic passing through Virginia, even if the sender and recipient are elsewhere. As northern Virginia is home to America Online and several other tech firms, a hefty percentage of the world's emails are routed through the state.

• Separately, federal authorities are investigating the spam issue as well. Preparing for a three-day workshop on the subject, the Federal Trade Commission released a study showing that the biggest complaint against spam is use of deceptive headers and sender addresses.

The survey found that 44% of spam messages try to trick consumers into opening the email by using a phony subject line or fraudulent sender, while 40% contain misleading text.

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff