Friday, December 2, 2011

Who has been spamming legislators with my identity?

Early this week, I received an email from a Tiffiniy Cheng at I decided to open the message, despite the subject line being spammy-looking at best. The email essentially thanked me for my work in helping to defeat SOPA, and urging me to contact my legislators regarding PROTECT IP. While I have no love for either piece of legislation, I was fairly certain that I have never heard of before, and I had not made any effort related to SOPA. Looking closer at the email, I noticed that it was sent on the behalf of by Blue State Digital, an organization born from the ashes of the Howard Dean campaign. The email was also sent to an email address I forgot even existed; that I created years ago and set to forward to one of my primary addresses.

I wrote off the email and carried on. Yesterday morning, I received another email from Congressman Dennis Cardoza's office. The email was a form letter thanking me for contacting him regarding SOPA. I'm pretty sure that Dennis Cardoza is a California Democrat, and that California has not yet acquired Minnesota, where I am, and have always been a resident. The second email was also sent to my long-forgotten email account. That these two emails are the only messages that have been received by this account in as many years, something smells fishy.

It seems to me that someone has gotten their hands on an email list (I probably supported some democratic cause years ago), and taken it upon themselves to use that email list to spam legislators. While I may have no love for the current generation of intellectual property law, I have even less love for people using my identity without my authorization. As broken as American politics may seem, this seems particularly dishonest, as it undermines one of the core principles of our government; the ability of citizens to correspond with their elected representatives. If legislators think that correspondence from their constituents might be bogus, why bother reading ANY correspondence?