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CAN SPAM case upholds email filtering rights

UT can block online dating spam

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US appeals court judges have upheld the right of a University to filter unsolicited emails even if they conform to the CAN SPAM Act. The 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the University of Texas was within it rights to block emails from White Buffalo Ventures, which operates dating site LonghornSingles.com, irrespective of the fact that they featured an unsubscribe option, valid return address and accurate subject line.

Like a lower court, the appeals court ruled on Wednesday that the University of Texas (UT) hadn't violated White Buffalo Ventures constitutional right to free speech by stopping thousands of unsolicited messages before they hit user's in-boxes. The University started blocking the messages as part of its wider attempts to reign in the spam problem on campus. According to the Houston Chronicle the University of Texas only began blocking messages from White Buffalo after the firm failed to comply with a cease and desist order.

Austin-based White Buffalo started spamming UT after obtaining the email addresses of students using a Freedom of Information Act request, a legal but ethically questionable use of the facility that does nothing to attract sympathy to its subsequent "cartoonish" legal efforts. ®

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