Stupid State Watch: Spamming as 'Free Speech'
By Ken Magill
A Fox News study—calm down Fox haters; this isn’t about political beliefs—has reportedly found that 19 states plus the District of Columbia, now ask for an email address on voter registration cards.
In nine of those states, according to Fox, email addresses from the cards are then sold to political parties, organizing groups, lawmakers and campaigns who can use them to send unsolicited emails.
Of course, when Congress enacted the Can-Spam Act, it exempted political messages.
And how are political spam’s proponents defending it? Why, with a free-speech argument, of course.
"Political communications are not spam. Political communications are a demonstration of free speech in America," said Stuart Shapiro, president of iConstituent, a Washington, D.C.-based firm which uses state-generated email lists to send messages on behalf of clients on all sides of the political spectrum, according to Fox.
"There is a tenet in government that is based on communicating with our constituents, and email is one of the most effective ways to do it," Shapiro said, according to Fox. "People look forward to it and want it."
Umm, no they don’t. Just because someone registers to vote doesn’t mean they’re all that politically engaged. As a result, many of them will report email sent to them as a result of voter-registration-list sales as spam, creating possible delivery troubles.
Also, political spam isn’t remotely free speech. It’s make-others-pay-to-process-and-deliver-my speech.
Spam uses private resources without their owners’ permission. The right to free speech is not a right to impose costs on others, which is exactly what spam does.
Also, ISPs will block even political unwanted messages.
Just ask the folks who manage the email programs for GOP presidential candidates Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich.
Both of their campaigns have earned Spamhaus blocklistings in recent weeks.
Shapiro can defend unsolicited political email all he wants, but in the end, he and his customers will find out those state voter lists are a deliverability nightmare waiting to happen.