On the 14th of August I saw my first annoying political ad of the 2003 presidential campaign season. And it wasn’t on TV … it was in my inbox.
The message was from Gov. Howard Dean (but don’t look for an apology on his Web site — you won’t find one) and was sent by “SuperEmailBargains.com”.
It was pure spam, the sort of unsavory, unsolicited, annoying e-mail that politicians like Dean normally demand government regulation to prevent.
How do I know its spam? Well, I can safely say there’s no way in hell that I would have visited a Howard Dean Web site, opted into his mailings, registered Democrat or otherwise given my explicit or implicit ok to receive an e-mail from him.
According to this Wired story the mass spamming was an accident. Dean didn’t mean to worm his way into millions of inboxes, the people who they hired to do the job did it.
It wasn’t his fault, you see … it was those pesky contractors. Kind of makes you wander what’ll happen if he succeeds in bringing this awe-inspiring attention to detail to the federal level…
Of course, when all is said and done, I don’t really care that I got spammed by Dean. The spam filters on my Mac kill most of the unsolicited e-mail I get, and now that I’ve loosed Mac OS X’s Junk Mail filters on him, I can be sure I won’t be seeing any more e-mail from him.
What I do care about though, is the various anti-spam laws that the overzealous want to see implemented. The new regulations — just like the “anti-telemarking” call lists — won’t stop the unscrupulous who don’t care about laws, but they will make life harder for those who do obey the law. And it’s sure to have loads of unintended consequences, just as the “campaign finance reform” laws did.
When all is said and done, I’d rather rely on technology to shield me from these sorts of intrusions than the government, which will inevitably deny even more freedoms to its citizens while failing to make the slightest dent in the problem it’s allegedly trying to fix.