Roomie Site Can't Match by Gender, Sex Preference
Court sees violation of fair housing laws
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 4, 2008 7:10 AM CDT
New roommates unpack at university. A court has ruled that a roommate-finding website is liable under anti-discrimination laws.    (KRT Photos)
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(Newser) – is violating fair-housing laws by asking users their gender, sexual preference, and whether they have children, and using that information to match them,  a US Court of Appeals ruled yesterday. Judges said such questions would be illegal if a real estate agent asked them over the phone and don't "magically become lawful when asked electronically," the Los Angeles Times reports.

A similar fair-housing case against classified ad site Craigslist was thrown out recently, but the judges said the difference is that requires users to choose from a menu containing preferences, making "answering the discriminatory questions a condition of doing business." Dissenting judges said the ruling could threaten all interactive sites and harm the Internet's growth.