Guest Post: Email and the White House

Today's guest post comes to us courtsey of Jaren Angerbauer, the founder and CEO of DeliveryVision, an email delivery consulting firm. Jaren has more than nine years of experience in the email deliverability space, and has established himself as an expert in the industry. Jaren also is an adjunct professor at Utah Valley University, where he teaches about email messaging technologies. Jaren lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, and is also an accomplished violist, and performs with professional ensembles on a regular basis. Take it away, Jaren!

As an email deliverability consultant, I find my self continually reminding clients about the importance of using good sender practices. Among other things, the practice of double opt-in seems to be a common topic of discussion. "Double" opt-in, sometimes referred to as "confirmed" opt-in, is the practice of a sender requesting that a subscriber confirm their interest in receiving the respective email communications, as well as to verify that their email address is valid. This is usually done with the subscriber clicking a verification link in the email message. Spam Resource has an excellent blog post on email opt-in methods.

With that in mind, let us segue to the recent debacle at the White House where there have been purported cases of people receiving emails they did not ask for. When asked about this, the White House responded through their blog with the following:

"It has come to our attention that some people may have been subscribed to our email lists without their knowledge –- likely as a result of efforts by outside groups of all political stripes -– and we regret any inconvenience caused by receiving an unexpected message."

So, case in point, if the White House had implemented a confirmed opt-in strategy, perhaps "outside groups of all political stripes" wouldn't have had the chance to abuse the White House's email subscription system. The blog continues:

"We have also implemented measures on to boost the security of the mailing list and we will carefully evaluate signups already received to work toward preventing this problem in the future."

Okay, so the White House screwed up, and now they are going to fix it by boosting list security, and evaluating signups. The problem is, is that as of this writing, the White House email sign up form still does not confirm email sign ups, and operates on a single opt-in basis, allowing anyone to sign up anyone they want.

Another twist to this scenario is that the White House uses an outsourced provider to send their email updates. GovDelivery is an Email Services Provider for the public sector. From their CEO:

"GovDelivery…provides tools that make it easy for agencies to allow subscribers to confirm subscription requests and to unsubscribe from receiving information…Not all of our clients use all of the tools available to them because not all of these measures are useful in every environment."

Thus we can see that even though the White House has the tools available to them to confirm subscriptions, they are choosing not to, and as a result are tarnishing not only their reputation as a email sender, but overall creating a question of their moral standards.

Until next time,

Eat Responsibly, Drink Responsibly, Email Responsibly.

Jaren Angerbauer
Founder / CEO

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