Second Conviction in History for Obscene Email

PHOENIX — A Manhattan Beach, Calif. native recently became the second person in U.S. history to be convicted for the transmission of obscene email messages. Kirk Rogers had been accused of masterminding a computer system that sent out several hundred thousand unsolicited emails advertising adult products and websites.

Rogers pleaded guilty to the charges in federal court in Arizona last week, admitting the system he managed had violated the U.S. Can-Spam Act and acknowledging responsibility for more than 600,000 complaints that flooded American Online during the first half of 2004.

Emails sent by Rogers included advertisements for several adult websites, many of which included graphic images embedded in the emails. The images by themselves were enough to pin four counts of felony obscenity charges against Rogers in the case.

Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for spam analysis firm Sophos, welcomed the news of Rogers’ conviction.

“Firm action is required by the authorities to send a strong message to spammers that their activities are unacceptable,” Cluley said. “The U.S. computer crime forces should be congratulated for catching someone else who was contributing to the menace of spam email.”

Rogers’ clients, listed as Jennifer Clason, Jeffrey Kilbride and James Schaffer are scheduled for Can-Spam-related trials in May.

As part of his plea, Rogers must forfeit any money earned through his spam operation. Estimates of his earnings were not given, but authorities said he could face up to five years in prison for his actions.

Rogers’ sentencing is scheduled for June 5.