UT, Spammer Tussle in Court

Link: UT Singles Out Site that Seeks Single Longhorns.

White Buffalo spammed 57,000 email users at the University of Texas. UT responded by blocking them. White Buffalo sued, but lost.

I gave my three cheers for the good guys winning, but there are some aspects of this story that trouble me.

First, blocking a source that's generating spam can be justified to protect your users or facilities. According to the story, UT went beyond that and blocked email in the other direction: from their users outbound to the spammers. A block such as that cannot be supported on either grounds: protecting users or protecting resources. It sounds like the intent was punitive. Now, I enjoy spanking spammers as much as the next guy (maybe more so), but not at the expense of disrupting users' email.

Another thing that bothers me is the implication that UT allows some organizations to spam. The article cites Dell and MasterCard. What isn't clear, however, is whether the email from those companies is solicited. Or, maybe the email was just sent to people with whom they have an existing business relationship. In either case, that's not spam, and White Buffalo would be barking up the wrong tree.

Finally, I find it disturbing that White Buffalo believes that UT email addresses are public information and subject to spam. That information ought to be able to be kept private, and it should not be repurposed into marketing fodder.

These are some of the big red flags that went up when I read the article. I wish the reporter had spoken with somebody familiar with spam issues so that they may have been clarified. (via spamNEWS)