X

Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
A state judge has ruled that Maryland’s anti-spam law — the first state law to penalize senders of junk e-mail — is unconstitutional because it seeks to regulate commerce outside the state’s borders. Last week’s ruling, which threw out a lawsuit against a New York e-mail marketer, effectively overturns Maryland’s 2002 Commercial Electronic Mail Act. Eric Menhart, the George Washington University law student who brought the case in Maryland against Joseph Frevola, promised to appeal. Congress and more than three dozen state legislatures have passed laws to corral spam, the popular term for junk e-mail advertising. An appeals court in California and the Washington state Supreme Court have upheld state laws that had been declared unconstitutional by lower courts on grounds similar to the Dec. 9 ruling in Maryland. Maryland’s law allows residents who receive e-mail with certain false information to sue for damages. A separate criminal statute enacted in October adds criminal penalties of up to $25,000 and 10 years in prison. Assistant Attorney General Steve Sakamoto-Wengel said he believes the law should stand. “The law over the Internet is developing. There are going to be conflicting rulings,” he said. But the ultimate hope is that “they all get resolved and we have clear rules over what states can and can’t regulate.” The federal anti-spam law that took effect this year does not allow individuals to sue spammers. That law superseded most state laws unless — like Maryland — they specifically addressed deceptive or fraudulent e-mail. The Maryland law applies to e-mail sent to or from Maryland residents, but it leaves vague the actual location of the resident — potentially affecting companies who send e-mail to people who live in Maryland, but who might receive the transmission elsewhere via laptop. Menhart set up a corporation in Maryland to fight spam and pays Maryland taxes, but he lives in Washington. The judge concluded that the law unconstitutionally attempts to regulate commerce that may never enter Maryland. The case’s dismissal could mean “Eric Menhart’s out of business,” said Andrew Dansicker, the lawyer representing Frevola, the New York e-mail marketer. “All of his cases are based on the Maryland statute. All of his cases are going to be dismissed.” Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten, or redistributed.

Want to continue reading?
Become a Free ALM Digital Reader.

Benefits of a Digital Membership:

  • Free access to 3 articles* every 30 days
  • Access to the entire ALM network of websites
  • Unlimited access to the ALM suite of newsletters
  • Build custom alerts on any search topic of your choosing
  • Search by a wide range of topics

*May exclude premium content
Already have an account?

 
 

ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2020 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.