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August 04, 2005

Court deals blow to dating-service spammer

An online dating service does not have the right to blast unsolicited e-mail at thousands of University of Texas e-mail addresses, a federal appeals court ruled.

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals said Tuesday that the university did not run afoul of federal law or the U.S. Constitution when blocking a torrent of spam from White Buffalo Ventures' LonghornSingles.com site.

The University of Texas may "implement the Regents' Rules without violating" spammers' rights, a three-judge panel unanimously concluded.

White Buffalo, an Austin, Texas, start-up that boasts of making "a ton of moolah" by promoting relationship-based Web sites, began its bulk e-mail campaign in February 2003 by filing a freedom of information request that gave it nearly all the university's e-mail addresses. Two months later, it began deluging the school's servers with commercial solicitations--and had its Internet addresses blocked after refusing to stop when asked.

Most spammers might halt their efforts at that point, but White Buffalo was unusually determined. It filed a lawsuit against the University of Texas and sought a court injunction protecting what amounted to a right to spam--citing both the federal Can-Spam Act and the First Amendment, which broadly limits a government university's ability to restrict free speech.

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August 4, 2005 in Anti Spam | Permalink

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