Tech Trends: Whamming the spammers
Life just got a bit harder for spammers trying to reach one coveted audiencecollege students.
Last week, a federal appeals court ruled against an online dating service called White Buffalo Ventures, which had been battling the University of Texas-Austin for the right to send unsolicited E-mail come-ons to UT students.
The spat started in 2003, when White Buffalo obtained UT E-mail addresses under the Freedom of Information Act and spammed a sizable chunk of the student body, pitching a site called longhornsingles.com. A number of upstanding students complained, so the university issued a cease-and-desist letter to White Buffalo, which the company ignored. UT countered by putting a filter on its Web server that blocked E-mail from a White Buffalo site to all addresses ending in "@utexas.edu." Instead of backing off at that point, like most spammers do, White Buffalo sued UT, claiming that the university was violating both the First Amendment and the federal Can-Spam Act of 2003, which established rules for bulk E-mailers.
A lower court ruled that the university was within its rights in establishing spam filters; the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed. The ruling could put limits on other spammers directing bulk E-mail to colleges and universities.
Spammers often find ways around the rules, thoughone reason that two thirds of all E-mail traffic consists of spam, according to security firm Symantec. And as annoying as it can be, some businesses say it's an essential marketing tool. Unsolicited offers for pharmaceuticals make up over 40 percent of all spam traffic, according to Sophos, which develops antivirus software. And the fastest-growing spam segment in the first half of this year involved stock scams, which grew at 10 percent per month, according to Sophos. Blasts offering mortgages and adult content also continue to fill E-mail in-boxes.
For more information on spam and your rights, visit: