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Spammers Lose Court Battle Against Univ. of Texas

timothy posted more than 8 years ago | from the eyes-of-texas-aren't-upon-you dept.

Spam 288

voma writes "The University of Texas didn't violate the constitutional rights of an online dating service when it blocked thousands of unsolicited e-mails, a federal appeals court panel ruled Tuesday. White Buffalo Ventures, which operates LonghornSingles.com, had appealed to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, saying it had complied with all anti-spam laws."

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288 comments

FRIST POST (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13234718)

Taco spams child porn.

Re:FRIST POST (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13235169)

Together with the fact that IE7 beta blocks AdSense by default, this is a pretty good day for anti-spamming.

right to your machine (3, Insightful)

cerelib (903469) | more than 8 years ago | (#13234725)

the only way to block something is if you have control of a machine that it is going to. if it is your machine than you have all of the rights in the world to block anything that comes in or tries to go out. if you have control of the machine by less than legal means, well that's another issue.

Re:right to your machine : Wrong analysis (2, Insightful)

neurocutie (677249) | more than 8 years ago | (#13235142)

No, I don't believe your analysis is correct.

It certainly isn't true that because it is "your machine" you have the right to block anything that comes to it. A phone company may own the phone network and switching equipment, but that doesn't give them the right to block, particularly selectively, what they choose to block. A university may own the student's mailboxes, but that doesn't mean that the university has the right to selectively filter the student's incoming mail.

I'm not saying that the decision is wrong, on the contrary, its great that the university blocks spam. But I do not think your analysis is the right basis for the decision.

Devil's Advocate (4, Insightful)

Shkuey (609361) | more than 8 years ago | (#13234731)

So the school sold all these addresses to a spammer, presumably for the purpose of having spam sent to them and then blocked all the messages? I'd probably be annoyed too. Of course, it is the students who should be even more angered that the university would sell them out like that.

Re:Devil's Advocate (5, Interesting)

Kiaser Wilhelm II (902309) | more than 8 years ago | (#13234756)

The school can't do much, it is public information (Freedom of Information Act, etc) unless you explicitly tell them not to release it.

Of course, institutions are really bad about this.. My high school, despite my multiple requests not to, released my information to all sorts of local corporations for them to spam me with prom/senior pictures/etc. related junk mail.

FoIA is only part of it - FERPA is the rest (5, Informative)

csoto (220540) | more than 8 years ago | (#13235226)

The Family and Educational Right to Privacy Act trumps FoI at public universities. It stipulates rules about disclosure of information that students have stated are to be protected. The University of Texas does a very good job of protecting this data, at least in the groups that I've worked with.

Re:Devil's Advocate (2, Interesting)

garcia (6573) | more than 8 years ago | (#13234785)

So the school sold all these addresses to a spammer, presumably for the purpose of having spam sent to them and then blocked all the messages?

The school sold all the addresses so that the students could be spammed. It is the school's job to protect their students from that e-mail spam.

It's not the school's right to stop mail from coming to the student's residences.

Most student address requests that I get in my office are for Army and Navy recruiting stations. They pay a $50 fee per list and receive a disk with the Access database of the names.

It's up to the students themselves to add a DNR (do not release) onto their records. It does make their lives a bit more difficult for their own record releases but at least they wouldn't be hounded by the companies that the school sold them off to.

I have a feeling that this particular University makes a lot more than $50 a list and that's why the spammers were pissed off.

Re:Devil's Advocate (4, Informative)

Kiaser Wilhelm II (902309) | more than 8 years ago | (#13234826)

It should be noted that the privacy notations on student records don't apply to military recuriters (and presumably, other government institutions).

You can think your congressman for this: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/05123/498098.stm [post-gazette.com]

Re:Devil's Advocate (1)

garcia (6573) | more than 8 years ago | (#13234956)

Except with military recruiters. The Solomon Act requires institutions to turn over certain categories of such directory information to them.

"Since Solomon passed, we must release this eight or nine pieces of directory information. We could turn another organization down."

Those types of information are: name of student; student's address, local or permanent; student's phone number, local or permanent; age and/or date of birth; place of birth ("If we know it -- we are not required to get that information," said Baker); class level (freshman, sophomore, graduate etc.); academic major; degrees the student has received; student's most recent educational institutional enrollment before current institution.


The article does not state what is and is not "Directory Information". Sometimes this can include all of what the article mentioned (address, telephone, e-mail, GPA, major, etc) or it could simply be the student's name and major.

I wonder if a school limits their directory information to just that if the law still applies.

Re:Devil's Advocate (1)

Kiaser Wilhelm II (902309) | more than 8 years ago | (#13235005)

The school is only entitled to release basic information such as name, address, phone no. and major unless the student has instructed the records to be private.

FERPA [ed.gov] requires permission from the student to release any information such as grades or GPA.

Re:Devil's Advocate (2, Insightful)

Compholio (770966) | more than 8 years ago | (#13234888)

Most student address requests that I get in my office are for Army and Navy recruiting stations. They pay a $50 fee per list and receive a disk with the Access database of the names.

My god those people make me angry, the Air Force kept sending me stuff and calling me all the time even after I got to college (and I'd told them several times to leave me alone). When they finally called my dorm at college I told them that if they called me again I would file a complaint and make sure that someone paid attention to it - and then they finally left me alone. Can these people not take no for an answer? Why must they continue to pester everyone under the sun even after they've gone to college?

But anyway, on topic: What right does any spammer think they have to send unsolicited email through someone's system? As far as I'm concerned email is much more like the fax system in that it wastes time and money for servers to process those messages that no-one wants anyway.

Re:Devil's Advocate (1)

Kiaser Wilhelm II (902309) | more than 8 years ago | (#13235029)

I had this problem too, during my senior year at high school.

This creepy NAVY recruiter kept calling me every day for several days. He wouldn't take a cold shoulder as indication I wasn't interested in talking to him.

Then, it got really creppy: he came to my house! I didn't answer the door but he left his card.

The best advice, I suppose, I could give would be to tell them that you are gay.. There is rampant homophobia in the military, so chances are that you might be able to get them sufficently disgusted enough at you to a point where they don't want you.

Re:Devil's Advocate (1)

Kiaser Wilhelm II (902309) | more than 8 years ago | (#13235072)

several days.. I meant several weeks.

I didn't feel like talking to the guy, especially knowing how confrontational they can get. I don't think I should have to tell them anything if I never expressed an interest.

I ended up creation an Asterisk rule on my home PBX to automatically dump his calls.. Worked out pretty well.

Re:Devil's Advocate (2, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 8 years ago | (#13235234)

Just tell them your gay, and that you hope your life partner wants to know if he can live on base.

Re:Devil's Advocate (2, Insightful)

yellowbkpk (890493) | more than 8 years ago | (#13234803)

The Austin-based service had legally obtained the addresses from the university, but the university started blocking the e-mail messages saying White Buffalo was part of a larger spam problem that had crashed the computer system.

I don't see anywhere in that article that says anything about the university selling addresses. "Legally obtained" could mean many other things...

Re:Devil's Advocate (1)

Shkuey (609361) | more than 8 years ago | (#13234858)

I don't see anywhere in that article that says anything about the university selling addresses. "Legally obtained" could mean many other things...

You're correct; of course, it could mean a number of things. However I cannot get a copy of my own information from my univerity without paying them, so I find it hard to believe they would just hand it out to a company without any incentive. Monetary incentive or otherwise, I still consider it selling them out.

Re:Devil's Advocate (1)

jtwJGuevara (749094) | more than 8 years ago | (#13234993)

Virtually all universities have a campus directory of students online that contains at least names and email address, albeit university issued email address. This is public information and really wouldn't be hard for any third party to obtain. In UT's case, http://www.utexas.edu/directory/ [utexas.edu] is directly linked to from the home page. You can find the email address of any student there that you want.

Re:Devil's Advocate (3, Insightful)

KingOfBLASH (620432) | more than 8 years ago | (#13235061)

However I cannot get a copy of my own information from my univerity without paying them, so I find it hard to believe they would just hand it out to a company without any incentive.
Know any Perl? Create a spider to crawl through the student directory. Many colleges and universities have student directories or faculty directories with no check to make sure you're affiliated with the university. You might have to guess names but how hard is that? Go down a list and search for Anderson, Andreason, Anders, etc. Or just search by email addresses. When I was at the University of Buffalo they were a students initials. So run through the list: aaa@buffalo.edu, aab@buffalo.edu. It would be elementary to iterate through the permutations and get all the student data you can.

Still don't believe me? Try going to UB's Directory [buffalo.edu] . You can do wildcard searchs. Search by last name, type in "a*". Repeat for all 26 letters of the alphabet. Get a spider to do it. It's scary how easy it is to access personal data -- the first link contains all sorts of information about a student: mailing address, phone number, etc. If you were intent on stealing an identity you'd be 90% on the way there.

Re:Devil's Advocate (1)

Zarel (900479) | more than 8 years ago | (#13235277)

Still don't believe me? Try going to UB's Directory. You can do wildcard searchs. Search by last name, type in "a*". Repeat for all 26 letters of the alphabet.
After going to UB's directory, it appears that simply searching for "*" would work, too. You can get everyone's information simply by searching once, instead of 26 times.

Re:Devil's Advocate (3, Interesting)

British (51765) | more than 8 years ago | (#13234813)

I think you just came up with a great way to scam the spammers, AND make money...fast!

1. Sell your website's email addresses to a spamming company*
2. Block all mail from company you just sold out to
3. Profit!!

* cook up some contract where they can't sue if the email doesn't go through

Seriously.... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13234740)

whats the story here?

The obvious question... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13234743)

...what's their ip address to block?

Re:The obvious question... (1)

Intron (870560) | more than 8 years ago | (#13234904)

207.195.226.85 according to NANAE

Re:The obvious question... (1)

Intron (870560) | more than 8 years ago | (#13234958)

Whoops, that ones's old. It should be:

206.132.244.5 (BroncoSingles.com, et al)

Damn posting delay.

When and where (3, Insightful)

hackstraw (262471) | more than 8 years ago | (#13234744)


do "online dating services" have constitutional rights?

I need to speak with a corporate lawyer to find out what is required of me to incorporate myself so I can get some of these rights that the constitution alludes to.

Re:When and where (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 8 years ago | (#13234937)

It's not that you need to become a corporation to have constitutional rights, it's that corporations need to become individual legal entities in order to enjoy most of the same individual rights as we mere humans.

Oh wait, they already passed that law.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporation [wikipedia.org]

1st Amendment = Free SPEECH (5, Insightful)

yellowbkpk (890493) | more than 8 years ago | (#13234746)

The first amendment gives you the right to free SPEECH, not free listeners.

Just because you say it doesn't mean everyone (or anyone) has to listen to you.

Re:1st Amendment = Free SPEECH (1)

hackstraw (262471) | more than 8 years ago | (#13234885)

The first amendment gives you the right to free SPEECH, not free listeners.

Just because you say it doesn't mean everyone (or anyone) has to listen to you.


So true. When I was in college, I saw a bible thumper escorted off of campus kicking and screaming about "free speech". The campus police reminded him that he needed a permit for such a thing and that nobody was required to listen to his shouting and ranting.

Gotta love the South!

Was it Brother Jeb? (1)

wowbagger (69688) | more than 8 years ago | (#13234961)

When I was in college, I saw a bible thumper escorted off of campus kicking and screaming about "free speech".


Was this thumper called "Brother Jeb"? If so, he ain't just a Southern Phenom - he was at Wichita State back when I was an undergrad - ca. 1985 or so. Showed up for a couple of years. Was roundly made fun of, and was not, to the best of my knowledge, officially removed from campus, but rather I think he finally "figgerd" out that all those " LEEEEEZZZZZZBIANS and MAAAAAA-STURBATORS " were not going to listen to him.

Re:Was it Brother Jeb? (1)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 8 years ago | (#13235221)

Ahh, Brother Jeb. My wife and I were talking about him just last night, as she had found another coworker with exciting Brother Jeb stories.

It's something special to be called a Whore by Brother Jeb. It means you must be doing something right.

This was 1995-2000, University of Tennessee.

Re:1st Amendment = Free SPEECH (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13235069)

The first amendment gives you the right to free SPEECH, not free listeners.

Does it give you (the university) right to keep others (the students) from receiving information? What if you replace 'university' and 'students' by 'government' and 'citizens'?

Re:1st Amendment = Free SPEECH (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13235149)

Agreed; And to extend that thought: Email (and telephones) are for the convenience of their owners/operators, not the convenience of third parties who happen know the address or phone number.

constitutional rights? (5, Insightful)

yoyo81 (598597) | more than 8 years ago | (#13234750)

"The University of Texas didn't violate the constitutional rights of an online dating service "

Since when do dating services have constitutional rights? Isn't it convenient that corporations can cherry pick when they want to be corporations and when they want to be individuals?

Re:constitutional rights? (1)

PhYrE2k2 (806396) | more than 8 years ago | (#13234969)

A corporation is creating an 'individual' under the law. The corporation must do all that an individual does. It needs to pay taxes, operate in legal manners, be responsible for various things, etc.

So the dating service, if incorporated, has the same rights as anyone.

-M

Re:constitutional rights? (2, Insightful)

Aardpig (622459) | more than 8 years ago | (#13235185)

So the dating service, if incorporated, has the same rights as anyone.

And far fewer of the responsibilities. Corporations regularly get away with acts (e.g., Union Carbide's Bhopal leak [wikipedia.org] ) that would see an individual locked up for life.

Re:constitutional rights? (1)

mpapet (761907) | more than 8 years ago | (#13234989)

Businesses in America enjoy many freedoms that individuals don't have. Lower tax burden, limited liability, generally favorable outcomes in the civil court system.

In a perfect world, my employer would hire my corporation and treat my corporation as the employee. I'd be interested to hear any rational arguements besides the conventional being taxed twice arguement.

Re:constitutional rights? (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | more than 8 years ago | (#13235121)

People do this all the time -- it's called service contracts. Talk to your employer; they might let you do it too.

Re:constitutional rights? (1)

gujo-odori (473191) | more than 8 years ago | (#13235199)

Corporations have all the same constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech, protection against unreasonable search and seizure, etc., that individuals do. The issue is not that it was a corporation doing this. It could have been an individual doing it over a DSL line and the constitutional issues (or lack thereof) would have been the same.

The issue here, as many others have noted, is that freedom of speech guarantees that you can say what you want to say. It doesn't guarantee that anyone will listen, nor does it mandate that anyone has to allow you to use their forum to say it, nor does it allow you to force people to listen if they don't want to. If you're standing on a street corner expounding on your political position and I walk by without listening to you (the equivalent of a spam filter), that's tough. You can't (legally) grab me and make me stop and listen. What the dating service attempted to do in court was grab 59,000 people and make them stop and listen, while simultaneously trying to force UT to provide a forum at no charge. The court recognized what anyone less stupid than a spammer understands: that you can't make people listen and you can't force them to provide a forum.

Looks perfectly legit to me... (4, Insightful)

sgar (859603) | more than 8 years ago | (#13234751)

At the time, UT issued a cease and desist order, but White Buffalo refused to comply. So UT blocked all the e-mail messages from White Buffalo's IP address.
So lets get this straight, UT issues a cease and desist which the company refused to comply with. In response, UT took care of the ceasing and desisting for them. Don't really see the problem here.

LonghornSingles.com (5, Funny)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 8 years ago | (#13234757)

That'd be VistaSingles.com now, thank you.

Re:LonghornSingles.com (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13234934)

And so much for my latest porn site hookemhornies.com.

Well DUH. (2, Insightful)

Famanoran (568910) | more than 8 years ago | (#13234763)

If the ruling had been any different, I'd have to seriously question the sanity of the US justice system - of course, I have to do that anyway.

Just because you put your turn signal on, and following all the road rules correctly you turned into my driveway, it doesn't mean that you have the right to park on my property.

Right on! (4, Insightful)

rblum (211213) | more than 8 years ago | (#13234764)

It's a first step towards acknowledging that corporations should have no rights - at least not unless they're willing to take on responsibilities too.

(Yes, I'm a hopeless optimist...)

Re:Right on! (1)

geekee (591277) | more than 8 years ago | (#13235102)

" It's a first step towards acknowledging that corporations should have no rights - at least not unless they're willing to take on responsibilities too.

(Yes, I'm a hopeless optimist...)"

Does that mean you want the Mozilla foundation code to lose copyright protection? They're not a corporation, but they certainly are not an individual, and they're spawning some sort of corporate entity.

Re:Try Again (1)

mpapet (761907) | more than 8 years ago | (#13235181)

I'm sad you think this kind of opinion is somehow viable. I'm really sad it was moderated insightful because that means you are not the only one thinking like this.

Modern american government has as one of it's main goals to create an environment where it's safe to do business and keep profits. That means businesses are given many priveledges(sp?) at the expense of individuals.

I'm really interested to know who influenced you to form this kind of opinion. School? Parents? TV? What generation do you belong? What do you do for a living?

Please don't take this as an insult because I'm not trying to start anything. I really want to know.

Constitutional questionability (2, Interesting)

mark_hill97 (897586) | more than 8 years ago | (#13234765)

While this IS a good victory against spammers, I really worry about the constitutionality of such an action, UofT is a government funded school and as such should not be able to suppress the rights of free speech, even unpopular speech.

Re:Constitutional questionability (1)

Kiaser Wilhelm II (902309) | more than 8 years ago | (#13234797)

Not true. The courts have narrowed the definition of the 1st Amendment because it is impractical to have an "absolute right" to free speech. Otherwise, we would have people yelling "FIRE!" in crowded resturants with no impunity.

The litmus test here would be the "Time/Place/Manner" doctorine. In this case, the spam is having a debilitating effect on the ability for them to run their email system.

Re:Constitutional questionability (1)

paradizelost (689394) | more than 8 years ago | (#13234823)

However, what you are saying would mean that the millions of bots out there spamming people shouldn't be able to be filtered either because they "could" be from a person. they simply do not want that spam going into their email system because it takes up space, bandwidth, etc... if the students want to recieve that email, they can use a service that they have the control over.

Re:Constitutional questionability (1)

Sancho (17056) | more than 8 years ago | (#13234852)

So by that, do you imply that universities should not be able to have anti-spam measures? No blacklists (including OpenRBL or rfc-ignorant?) and certainly no spamassassin-like process to determine what is junk mail and what isn't?

Remove the consideration that this was a legitimate business that was wreaking havoc on the mail servers and pretend it was a random spammer "selling" v 1 @ g r a....should the university still allow that speech through?

Re:Constitutional questionability (4, Insightful)

pete6677 (681676) | more than 8 years ago | (#13234916)

Since when does the constitution provide the right to require the government to help you deliver an unlimited amount of commercial advertising? For the last time, SPAM IS NOT A FREE SPEECH ISSUE! Popular message or not, no mail administrator is required to deliver mail. The spammer is not being restricted from sending mail at all. Free speech does not entitle the speaker to a free platform.

Re:Constitutional questionability (1)

kirkb (158552) | more than 8 years ago | (#13235099)

Furthermore, should 'constitutional rights' even apply to corporations? Is that what the founding fathers intended?

Re:Constitutional questionability (1)

geekee (591277) | more than 8 years ago | (#13235203)

" Since when does the constitution provide the right to require the government to help you deliver an unlimited amount of commercial advertising? For the last time, SPAM IS NOT A FREE SPEECH ISSUE! Popular message or not, no mail administrator is required to deliver mail. The spammer is not being restricted from sending mail at all. Free speech does not entitle the speaker to a free platform."

Here's the problem. No private entity is required to deliver spam to you, as you point out. However, a public school is run by the govt. What right does the govt. have to decide for you as a student what e-mail you should read or not. Clearly this is censorship and a 1st amendment violation. This is exactly what the founding fathers worried about, govt. entities censoring speech. These types of dilemmmas [aynrand.org] become inevitable when we allow govt. to run institutions that should be run by private citizens.

Re:Constitutional questionability (2, Insightful)

hackstraw (262471) | more than 8 years ago | (#13234974)


The mail servers were crashing and their users were specifically complaining about the mails in question.

Spam is getting to be such a problem, that real protected speech is becoming hindered. Keep in mind that this is a mass mail that was on order of 59,000 mails. I'm under the illusion that I am entitled to have free speech, but I don't feel as though whatever I feel like saying should be sent to every inbox in the world every time I think of something.

I post to slashdot instead :)

Re:Constitutional questionability (2, Insightful)

Rhys (96510) | more than 8 years ago | (#13234996)

What sort of demented logic makes you think spam is free speech?

Free speech is being able to stand on the street corner and shout that our government sucks*. It is not being able to stand in the middle of the intersection, blocking traffic, shouting that our government sucks.

Spam is the latter -- forcing the message upon the masses and causing them problems in the meantime.

*: Yes yes aside from all the other laws that would probably be involved there, like disturbing the peace, loitering, or whatever else they'd think up to shut you up or move you elsewhere. Call it "talking in a normal voice to other people in the park or on the street about the unfortunate failures in the government" instead and the analogy still goes.

Blocking ears, not mouth (2, Insightful)

HermanAB (661181) | more than 8 years ago | (#13235012)

The Uni is NOT blocking speech. They are blocking their EARS. That is a huge difference...

Re:Blocking ears, not mouth (1)

Valdrax (32670) | more than 8 years ago | (#13235251)

Well, to clarify, they're blocking their students ears. As a public entity, that's a huge difference as well.

Put me in the "70% happy with the decision" camp.

Re:Constitutional questionability (1)

jpetts (208163) | more than 8 years ago | (#13235013)

So people should be allowed to indiscriminately spam all government-funded organisations, like the armed forces, the White House, public schools, the courts, &c., &c.?

And in what way is spamming free speech anyhow?

Re:Constitutional questionability (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13235076)

I really worry about the constitutionality of such an action, UofT is a government funded school and as such should not be able to suppress the rights of free speech, even unpopular speech.

You do, do you?
Well, should the University be required to provide
an auditorium, free of charge, for me to use to give my "Back to the Bible" speech?

No?

Then why should the University have to provide
servers to deliver someone's spam?
Is it in any way different?

The I-CAN-SPAM act says you can (3, Informative)

www.sorehands.com (142825) | more than 8 years ago | (#13234774)

The Can-SPAM act says that it has no effect on the ability of the ISP to filter deny the spammer the ability to use their system. (Section 8(c).).

University Of Texas (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13234777)

It's University of Texas at Austin.. not University of Texas.

Re:University Of Texas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13234977)

Don't complain just becuase you didn't get accepted into UT..

Lemme guess.. UT Arlington or UT Dallas student?

THE University of Texas, son (1)

csoto (220540) | more than 8 years ago | (#13235138)

It is officially: The University of Texas at Austin

The "The" must be capitalized, as must "University," "Texas" and "Austin." I shit you not. This is the official rule.

HOOK EM!

Whew! (1)

DogDude (805747) | more than 8 years ago | (#13234782)

This decision is a relief. I've blocked *all* IP traffic from most of Asia. I was a tad worried that the entire continent of Asia would be able to sue me for closing my server to them. All right then, who's next? Eastern Europe? Former Soviet states? I'm an IP blocking fool! And only a written, signed apology from each and every citizen of every country I blocked is going to make it better.

In all seriousness, while doing this obviously has no impact on zombies that send spam, it did have a massive positive impact on our mail server. Hopefully, we'll see a decrease in zombie activity as Win XP SP2 continues to be more widely deployed.

Re:Whew! (2, Informative)

Cecil (37810) | more than 8 years ago | (#13235049)

That's strange you got such a significant positive impact. Personally, most of my spam (a whopping 37%) comes from the USA, mostly from cable modems/DSL lines. Excluding Russia and Japan, the rest of asia combined only contributes a paltry 9% of the total. European countries make up most of the other 54%

Re:Whew! (1)

slazzy (864185) | more than 8 years ago | (#13235182)

I block all IP addresses execpt 127.0.0.1 (and slashdot) the whole world can sue me! I have a friend who has a computer without internet access, in effect, they are blocking everyone! Sue the bastard! What about people who don't have computers? They are the worst of all, let's shut them down.

A victory? (1)

-Grover (105474) | more than 8 years ago | (#13234789)

Well, it would seem that this is somewhat of a victory, seeing as how this may hopefully serve as some sort of precedent for blocking unsoclicited e-mail at the university level (IANAL but this seems that it couldn't be an issue in the private sector).

The article is short, but the lines
"The university said it was also responding to complaints from students and faculty"
&
"At the time, UT issued a cease and desist order, but White Buffalo refused to comply. So UT blocked all the e-mail messages from White Buffalo's IP address"

pretty much sum up enough reason to blacklist them. Glad to know the spammers probably burned a lot of money on the court case though.

Re:A victory? (1)

E-Rock (84950) | more than 8 years ago | (#13235104)

Unfortunately, the University burned just as much money defending themselves.

Re:A victory? (1)

-Grover (105474) | more than 8 years ago | (#13235134)

Yeah,

      I just meant % of worth-wise. Something tells me the defense cost was probably a very small in the eyes of the University, while the small time local dating site probably spent a much larger % of their net income on something that should have stayed out of the courts anyway.

free advertising? (1)

Bananatree3 (872975) | more than 8 years ago | (#13234790)

by posting a link on slashdot, is that free advertising?

(Or maybe a free slashdotting, depending on your view)

Re:free advertising? (1)

ZiakII (829432) | more than 8 years ago | (#13234856)

by posting a link on slashdot, is that free advertising?
There are people single that read slashdot?!?!?!!

First ammendment rights (1)

alvinrod (889928) | more than 8 years ago | (#13234796)

While the first ammendment does give us the right to freedom of speech (with some reasonable exceptions) I think it should guarantee everyone the right not to listen to the shit everyone else is saying.

I don't mind some company sending out emails about getting an extra 3 inches, printer ink cartridges, or hOt XxX pOrN!!!1!!, but I do mind having to listen to what they have to say if I don't want to.

Sure I don't have to open the actual email, but seeing it in my inbox where it takes up space and time to get rid of it is enough. I'll start sticking up more for spammers rights as soon as they start respecting mine. Until then it's really hard to give two shits or a handshake about some asshats who've generally been dicks to you and everyone for as long as they've been on the net.

So forever after, let it be known... (1)

Civil Beast (851479) | more than 8 years ago | (#13234806)

The Eyes of Texas are not upon you...

Re:So forever after, let it be known... (1)

mooingyak (720677) | more than 8 years ago | (#13234882)

Wow, if only they thought to put that on the tagline...

Spammer logic (5, Informative)

dazed-n-confused (140724) | more than 8 years ago | (#13234822)

The spammers "legally obtained the email addresses from the University" via an open records request for a list of utex.edu email addresses, then pretended that this meant they'd paid for the "right" to spam anyone associated with the University of Texas. More details here: Texas Attorney General's Office [state.tx.us] .

Then... (1)

spac3manspiff (839454) | more than 8 years ago | (#13234827)

Then why aren't they suing schools that use Bess [n2h2.com] .
Or even Corporations that block emails/websites?

Re:Then... (1)

sgar (859603) | more than 8 years ago | (#13234928)

The answer to yoru first question is probably the result of some local school districts "think of the children" campaign. The second one is that the first ammendment prevents the GOVERNMENT from censoring free speech. It does nothing to prevent private business from filtering/censoring whatever it pleases. If this weren't the case Google, and its part of the great firewall of china, would be in serious legal trouble.

well (1)

Ichigo Kurosaki (886802) | more than 8 years ago | (#13234875)

As a UT student set me say...Thank GOD

Re:well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13234931)

don't you mean "ret me say"?

Re:well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13234962)

They teach creationism as science up there or something?

Constitutional Rights (1)

LanceTaylor (166490) | more than 8 years ago | (#13234895)

"the constitutional rights of an online dating service"

The Consitution does not grant rights to a corporation, but to individuals. Also, the right to free speech does not mean that you have the right to post it on my property without my permission.

Re:Constitutional Rights (1)

Cheapy (809643) | more than 8 years ago | (#13235091)

I remember reading somewhere that corporations can indeed become a 'citezen' in the eyes of the law.

I think it was some Supreme Court case back in the 1890s...and this basically stated that companies could lobby politicians to act upon their behalf.

I'm not sure what exactly the case was called, but I'm sure someone else can find it.

Wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13235276)

You are right that it indeed protects individuals but wrong becuase corporations get much of the same protection under the law because the courts interpret the 14th and 15th (I think) ammendments to make corporations virtual people. Seriously. This is long-settled, from the very late 1800s.

woot-age (1)

sound+vision (884283) | more than 8 years ago | (#13234976)

Score one for common sense. I'm getting tired of reading bullshit about San Andreas and "Should medicinal cannabis remain illegal?" in the news.

Hmmm (4, Interesting)

greythax (880837) | more than 8 years ago | (#13235011)

Ok, this is just a question, and in no way intended to be a troll.

I am sure this story will be praised by the slashdot crowd, and as I work for a mid sized ISP, I can't say I am upset to see it happen. I am, however, curious about implications of the free speech side of this.

Let us assume that instead of commercial spam, this was a single individual that was sending out an email about some governmental injustice. For instance, if he had a friend that was being held under patriot act provisions without trial. Sure, a lot of people would junk the message, but judging from the messages I get that start with RE:FWD:RE:FWD:(ad infinitum), a goodly number of people would likely read it.

My question to slashdot is; Should there be occasions where it is ok to spam, and if so, how do we legislate it? If it can be justified, is bulk commercial spam just the price we have to pay for another venue by which our citizens can freely express themselves?

I would be very much interested to see if anyone had any legal precedents in the world of snail mail that might apply.

Re:Hmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13235189)

No.

Re:Hmmm (1)

Nos. (179609) | more than 8 years ago | (#13235195)

This is not a free speech issue. That's the point. As a private company, should I be forced under law to allow you to send email to addresses I host? Regardless of the content? I don't think anyone would say I should be forced to. As far as free speech issue, you can certainly attempt to deliver the message to my server (click send/forward/whatever on your mail client) which is the email equivalent to you speaking. I however, do not have to listen to you, even if I don't know what you're going to say, by blacklisting you, filtering, etc.

Re:Hmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13235201)

If I put up a billboard, but you shut your curtains are you infringing my right to free speech? Of course not. This is no different.

Re:Hmmm (1)

Hannah E. Davis (870669) | more than 8 years ago | (#13235253)

Well, personally, if I was going to try and spread the word of government injustice, I wouldn't do it through email. Most (intelligent) people would read such an email and either think "Oh, great, another scam trying to take advantage of me" or wonder why the hell you were bugging them about it... and then wish they hadn't just wasted their time reading it. The only people who would be likely to respond are the same kinds of people who actually believe those sad stories about Nigerian businessmen who've lost everything but need some random Westerner's help to reclaim their fortunes.

In short, I don't think it's ok to spam even in that situation. It won't help you, and it'll just piss off the rest of us. It's better to just let people decide what they want to read. If they want to find out about the injustices going on in the world, that's what blogs/news sites/personal websites/etc. are for.

Re:Hmmm (1)

GlL (618007) | more than 8 years ago | (#13235257)

The definition of SPAM is what needs to be defined. Bulk unsolicited commercial e-mail is a plague on the face of the internet. I work for a mid-sized ISP, and we have to spend thousands to protect our customers from this stuff. If we do not, the volume of B.U.C.E. would effectively be a DoS attack on our customers. It is much easier to determine which snail mail is legit. I think the laws around faxes would be a much better precedent, since this issue is using the resources of the receiver. You have every right to advertise to me, however, you do not have the right to charge me to view your advertisement. The best equivalent that I can come up with is this. You are sitting on your front porch and a man walks into your garage takes out a ladder and some paint and proceeds to write his product info and e-mail address on the walls of your house, then smiling and saying e-mail me and walking away. It is going to at least cost you time to repaint over what he painted, and you might be justified in wanting to purchase a fence, a mean dog, and some of those no tresspassing signs. Your "Free" speech ends when it costs someone else. The other thing we need to do is this: All you slashdotters out there tell every last one of your relatives, friends and coworkers to NEVER purchase anything from someone who e-mailed them. If this wasn't effective on some level, spammers wouldn't be doing it.

And the moral of the story? (3, Interesting)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 8 years ago | (#13235031)

Don't mess with Texas.

To paraphrase a legal scholar... (2)

B11 (894359) | more than 8 years ago | (#13235036)

Your rights end at my router, hubs, server, bandwidth, computers, etc.

This is like the "junk faxes," why should YOUR "free speech" cost ME money?

Had it gone the other way, it would have set dangerous presedent.

Re:To paraphrase a legal scholar... (1)

thehemi (904832) | more than 8 years ago | (#13235274)

Your rights end at my router, hubs, server, bandwidth, computers, etc.

Absolutely, we need to make sure this remains fact.

Had it gone the other way, it would have set dangerous presedent.

Without a doubt, had it gone the other way, it would have been setting a TERRIBLE precedent. We need to watch legislation and court decisions to make sure that the packets coming into our networks must pass OUR approval, not that of the source or some old guys from Washington.

these companies need to get a real job (1)

834r9394557r011 (878286) | more than 8 years ago | (#13235057)

annoying the hell out of people isn't a job. I treat my email box like my snailmail box. If it has an envelope i tend to look at it, same goes for email, if it looks like crap it most likely is crap.

I am going to SUE... (2, Funny)

modi123 (750470) | more than 8 years ago | (#13235137)

the University of Texas for ruining my only chance at true love, and future damages from the children I will not have. I was promised by a eastern european fortune teller that I will find my one and only love in U of T, and that the connection will be made through this site. :(

Re:I am going to SUE... (1)

modi123 (750470) | more than 8 years ago | (#13235225)

clarification.. by "this site" I meant the dating site.. no /. The Man Jesus only knows that if /. started a dating section it would cripple the IT infrastructure..

From a UT Student: HOORAY! (2, Interesting)

OpenGLFan (56206) | more than 8 years ago | (#13235167)

HOORAY! I'm a UT grad student, and I hadn't realized until I read this story that I hadn't gotten one of the annoying longhornsingles spams in quite a while.

So here's a public thanks to my University's IT dept. and to the judge in question! Let's block more spammers!

5th circuit and UT (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 8 years ago | (#13235179)

For those who don't know, the 5th circuit is one of the most consertive courts in the country. In fact, few worker rights cases go to court because it is well known that one the case hits the 5th circuit, they will just automatically side with the employer.

So I can just imagine this case. A company with the god given right to make a profit, and the University of Texas. Perhaps if it would have been Texas Southern University, then the spammer would have had a chance. But no one in Texas who wants to live past the morning is going to rule against UT on something like this.

*sigh* (2, Interesting)

Cervantes (612861) | more than 8 years ago | (#13235192)

The "constitutional rights" of a corporation...

Their "right" to communicate over a private medium...

I think this is a fine example of how everyones priorities are fucked.

That said... I would disagree with the university if they blocked access to the website of the spammers. The site isn't hosted by the university, and blocking the communications medium would be wrong. However, the email server is a different matter. If it chooses to reject certain emails, too bad. It's a private server subject to the whims of the owner, and it should be beyond anyone to force someone to do something with their private server.

What's next, the spammers sue to make us all keep our relays open?

Since when... (1)

Inspector (38755) | more than 8 years ago | (#13235242)

Do dating services have constitutional rights?
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