AUSTIN, Texas, AP – 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.
The company argued that the university violated its constitutional rights by filtering out 59,000 e-mails in 2003. White Buffalo also claimed a federal act that allows certain e-mails superseded the university”s anti-spam policy.
The 5th Circuit panel found that the federal anti-spam law, CAN-SPAM, does not pre-empt the university”s policy and that the policy is permissible under the First Amendment.
The law requires messages to have a title that correctly states the contents of the e-mail, a valid address and that companies honor requests to unsubscribe.
The court did not need to rule on whether the state university e-mail servers are public or private.
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.
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.
The court determined that White Buffalo complied with federal law, that its e-mails were not illegal, but the law applies to UT as it would to an Internet service provider that employs protection measures.