From the May 1999 issue of Startups

Virginia lawmakers recently adopted legislation that would make it a crime to send spam on the Internet. If Governor James Gilmore passes the bill (as he's promised), Virginia would become the second state in the nation with the ability to criminally prosecute Internet spammers. (California adopted a criminal statute on spamming last year.)

The measure is even more notable, considering Virginia is home to AOL, which services approximately 16 million of the United States' estimated 50 million Internet users.

The bill deems illegal spamming a misdemeanor, with maximum fines of $500. "Malicious" spamming-spamming costing the victim losses of more than $2,500-could be considered a felony. In addition, ISPs would be able to sue spammers for damages in the amount of $10 per message, or $25,000 a day, whichever amount is greater. Spammed individuals could sue for similar amounts.

Julia Miller is a Los Angeles business writer specializing in sales and marketing.