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GOP ignoring proffered Gmail spam filter bypass?


What's up with that Gmail political email pilot program, previously revealed by Axios and discussed by my friends Jennifer Nespola Lantz and Travis Murray (and me, and others)? Strangely enough, according to the Washington Post, Democrats are flocking to it, and Republicans seem to be avoiding it. Was this a bluff that they weren't expecting Gmail to call? After all, a number of noisy Republicans complained about, and asked for a way through the spam filtering; they were offered such a path, and don't seem to want to use it. Instead, the Republican National Committee is suing Google.

Color me confused.

Why do this now? It won't be decided in time to affect midterm elections. It makes the whole thing seem like bit of a ploy, focused on publicity. And perhaps a bad faith one, given the opportunity the GOP was already offered to be able to bypass Gmail's spam filters.

And who in their right mind would try to restrict the filtering of spam? On the one hand, one hopes the courts would respond to this reasonably; on the other hand, never assume anything when it comes to the courts in the US. CAN-SPAM doesn't really cover this scenario, other than making it clear that that law in particular does not restrict the right of internet service providers when it comes to setting policy that allows them to decline to accept certain types of traffic. I've long interpreted that as if you don't like an ISP's spam filter policies, too bad on you. But will the courts see it that way?

Applying a common carrier status to ISPs (which the FCC seemed to say back in 2017 should not apply to them) seems like it would be a disaster for email spam filtering. Too many apples, no matter how you restrict it. Even if it's just political apples, it's too many apples.

And I wonder about Google. I already hear so many people complaining that Gmail is a near monopoly in the email ecosystem. That makes the court action even a bit more of a wild card, if you ask me. The GOP will say that because Google effectively owns 60%+ of active US consumer mailboxes (my number, based on my own reckoning), that they are effectively blocked from communicating if blocked from Gmail.

Reading the complaint (find it here), I see Google hinting of potential authentication issues and spam complaint issues, which the RNC rebuts, but reading between the lines, it smells more like a low engagement issue to me. Don't quote me on that -- I'm only guessing -- but that's where it lands for me.

I pray the GOP does not succeed.

1 Comments

Comments policy: Al is always right. Kidding, mostly. Be polite, please and thank you.

  1. The GOP can't play victim if you offer solutions to their problems. Solution? Ignore the solutions!

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