Political Emails Bypassing Spam Filters…as a Service!

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 1 min read

Ashley Belanger: Gmail users “hard pass” on plan to let political emails bypass spam filters

Earlier this month, Google sent a request to the Federal Election Commission seeking an advisory opinion on the potential launch of a pilot program that would allow political committees to bypass spam filters and instead deliver political emails to the primary inboxes of Gmail users.

I was confused by this story at first…surely the FTC is asking Google to have political emails skip spam filter, right?

Nope. From Google's letter to the FTC:

Google requests the Commission’s opinion on a proposal to launch a pilot program for authorized candidate committees, political party committees, and leadership political action committees that are registered with the Federal Election Commission during the 2022 election cycle (“Eligible Participants”) and that meet objective security criteria, such as implementation of technical authentication standards. Once an Eligible Participant is accepted into the pilot, as long as its emails do not contain content prohibited by Gmail’s terms of service such as phishing, malware, or illegal content and comply with program requirements, those emails will not be affected by forms of spam detection to which they would otherwise be subject. The placement of those emails into users’ inbox folders or spam folders will instead rely on direct feedback from each user.

So basically, Google wants to let campaigns buy email lists, send whatever emails they want as long as they aren't literal phishing attacks, and put the onus on the user to start blocking these emails on demand.

Absolutely not. A top reason I don't donate to political campaigns except in rare circumstances is that doing so gets me onto a list that means I'll receive a nonstop torrent of email and physical mail from now until the end of time. Needless to say, this idea of the unsolicited political emails trying to get to me would also start to be blocked is…undesirable.

I think Gmail is by far the best email experience out there, but this is not a good move and I hope they don't implement this.