Thursday, August 11, 2022

Proposed Political BIAS Emails Act

SuretyMail (via Hacker News):

Named the Political BIAS Emails Act of 2022 (BIAS is short for “Bias In Algorithm Sorting”), a/k/a HR 8160 and SB 4409, the new law would require that email receiving systems such as Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo, and all the others, deliver political campaign email directly to your inbox, and they would be expressly forbidden to run it through their spam filters at all. We also include the full text of the proposed law at the end of this article.


Even though the intro heading says it applies only to email that people have elected to receive, the law would actually require [email providers] to deliver political campaign email directly to your inbox unless, and only unless, you personally mark it as spam. And we all know how effective marking something as spam can be; you can mark some email as spam until you’re blue in the face and it will still end up in your inbox.

Now, this might not be so bad if political campaigns actually followed best email practices, and only put someone on their mailing list if the person asked to be, or at least gave consent to be, put on the mailing list. But everyone in our industries knows that political campaigns are the worst violators of best practices.

I don’t understand how this would be implemented. Presumably it would only apply to US-based mail providers. If the e-mails have to be signed by one of a list of approved private keys, maybe this would actually make it easier to get rid of unwanted political e-mails.

Nick Heer:

In a way, there is consistency in the FEC’s draft position: U.S. politicians are already exempt from most rules governing unsolicited phone calls and texts. They do not have to respect the Do Not Call list. It is sort of fitting for them to be excluded from spam filters, too, though it is maddening.

Makena Kelly:

While Google did not need the FEC to approve the plan before rolling it out, it sought a vote earlier this summer to ensure the program wasn’t at risk of breaking current election regulations. In its Thursday ruling, the FEC confirmed that Google’s plan was legal.

Update (2022-09-26): Makena Kelly:

Google told Axios on Monday that it was launching a controversial new pilot program to keep campaign emails out of spam folders this week.

3 Comments RSS · Twitter

I can’t wait for spammers to figure out how to forge these and keep their mail out of junk folders.

E-mails from conservative/Republican mailing lists are more likely to end up in the spam pile than lib/lefty messages, not because of algorithmic bias, but simply because they’re much more likely to be actual junk mail or scams. Instead of cleaning up their own house, they cook up dumb legislation like this.

Beatrix Willius

Some basic sort of education of pollies on how the internet actually works would really help. There is no bias against conservatives with the tech companies. The law is ridiculous.

Even as German I got Frump spam.

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