A license for political spam

CAN-SPAM has a loophole for political “chat” – go figure. It isn’t as if the law is working anyway. And if you thought something along the lines of “well it just takes a few years for the rules to kick in,” then think again. Mid-term elections are just around the corner, and the latest out of Washington, a Federal Elections Commission exemption for email campaigning, is raising fears that the worst of spam is yet to come.

According to WaPo, big campaign contributors can provide unlimited sums for internet campaigning without candidates having to disclose amounts or even the sources. That bucket includes websites, blogging, and of course, email. It is a dream come true for sleazy campaigning (as if there was much else). Huge anonymized donations combined with low cost of reach, and further anonymity if you like.

Here is what I think you are going to get:

– professionally designed astroturf sites supporting every unpopular cause and candidate (with names like “savetheearmark.org”);
– shill blogs operated solely for trolling, written by paid political operatives posing as Aunt Belle out of Des Moine, IA; and
– emails galore for candidates and ballot measures, many with no identifiable source, opt-out link, or place of contact, other that astroturf sites and shill blogs (think SmithBarney phishing email with nothing but a doctored candidate picture and a red, white and blue banner at the top).

Few politicians get the internet, but in this case they are going to get it just right. Politics are at the forefront of many minds, and those minds are made up of two types of people:

– the minority, which are very smart, know they are very smart, will instantly identify the garbage, but won’t have the time or inclination to do anything about it; and
– everyone else.

“Everyone else” is a pretty sizable voting base.

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