Monday, August 22, 2005

Public Colleges Can Block Spam

In 2003, White Buffalo Ventures gathered email addresses from The University of Texas using a public records law. They then sent email messages to the students concerning an online dating service. The university received complaints about these messages and asked White Buffalo Ventures to stop sending the messages. When they didn't, they blocked their IP address. White Buffalo Ventures sued The University of Texas in state court, stating that, as long as they abided by the CAN-SPAM Act and were supported by the First Amendment, they could legally send these messages. The University put forward two arguments:
  1. By blocking this IP address, the university was helping the students use the email system and thereby advancing the interests of the university.
  2. Blocking this IP address aids in protecting the university's servers.
Although the appeals court did not agree with the second argument, they agreed with the first. Apparently, the judges felt that the university could have protected its servers in other ways. So, UT has the right to block spam for their users. An interesting court case that will directly affect public colleges and universities in Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi (the geographic area covered by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit) and indirectly affect other areas. [from Inside HigherEd]

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