The election is over. The mailings stopped. The lawn signs are (mostly) gone.
But Mark Mathias has a gripe.
The longtime Westporter and active civic volunteer writes:
Running for public office is a noble calling. Serving is rarely easy. Neither is becoming elected.
One of the tools candidates use is email marketing. It’s fast, effective and easy.
If your Inbox is anything like mine, you received a lot of emails from candidates.
Yet I didn’t sign up to receive any of them. So how did they obtain my address?
I have a system that lets me track emails. I create a unique email address for everyone I give my email address to. Then, whenever I receive an email, I know the source.
For example, I have given specific emails to the town of Westport for beach passes, taxes and the like. I intend these to be used solely for official town purposes.
Through Freedom of Information requests, the town provides these email lists to anyone who requests them. Candidates for public office are frequent requestors of these email lists, but sitting RTM members and any member of the public can and do make requests.
These lists are then uploaded by people to email services like Constant Contact and MailChimp.
However, doing so violates the Terms of Service for these companies, all of which require email addresses to have explicitly opted in. Here’s a snippet from MailChimp:
And here’s how MailChimp defines Spam:
The key word here is “Unsolicited.” I did not request or give permission for these people to send me email.
Constant Contact has similar rules for “permission-based marketing.” I have not given the senders my permission.
Here’s an example from an email I received from candidate from this week’s election:
Yes, I gave my email address to the Town of Westport for “the town” to use. But giving it to the town did not give anyone else permission to use that information.
I got a similar notification from a sitting RTM member recently.
So what can be done?
First, it is my hope thatall users of email systems will honor the Terms of Service of the provider.+
Second, if you start receiving emails from people for whom you didn’t request, do two things:
- Unsubscribe, and
- Report the abuse to the email provider.
PS: How do you track who is providing your email address?
If you’re a Gmail user, you can add a “+” after your name, and some text.
For example, if Tesla.com asks for your email address, type in “yourname+tesla.gmail.com.” If you get an email from another company, you’ll know that your email was given, lent, sold to or stolen by someone.
(You never know what you’ll learn from “06880.” To keep randomly great info like this coming, please make a tax-deductible contribution by clicking here. Thank you!)