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August 17, 2009

White House Admits Mistakes Were Made (By Someone Else, Natch) on Spam Email List

As I guessed, they're blaming this on their overly-enthusiastic cultists, claiming they did nothing wrong, except trust too much.

Advocacy groups and partisans, they claim, were signing up emails not their own.

We only have their word for that. There is a chance they had an email vaccuum fishing addresses out of their fishy-reporting snitch headquarters -- grabbing the emails of everyone there, including emails forwarded as "fishy" -- but of course they're not going to admit that or allow us to inspect their story.

Now, this makes me very suspicious: the flag@whitehouse.gov address is now non-funcitonal. Emails bounce from there, and you get this message:

The email address you just sent a message to is no longer in service.We are now accepting your feedback about health insurance reform via:http://www.whitehouse.gov/realitycheck

Now, supposedly, the White House is tightening up the lax sign-up procedures that allegedly lead to citizens being spammed by its government.

But when I go to that new address, there is a simple sign-in with no warning about signing up other people. Furthermore, I signed up a new email I made myself to test what would happen -- would they send me a confirmatory email asking me if I had intended to sign-up? To make sure this is not a bogus sign-up?

It's now been a half-hour and thusfar no such confirmatory email. I wasn't warned not to sign up someone else; I only had to enter a zip code (which was false, buy the way); and so far the only message I've gotten from them is "Thank you for signing up." Clarification: This message popped up on the website; it was not an email sent to me.

It seems odd to me that if phony sign-ups were indeed the problem, they have so far added nothing to prevent this, and furthermore, whatever new protections they plan on adding could have been added to flag@whitehouse.gov.

But they were not.


Which makes me suspicious that the problem here was flag@whitehouse.gov, all along, and that they are not busy diabling and deleting its functions. Why is the snitchline being changed at this moment if it has nothing to do with the spam?

Correction: There is a Warning: I signed up on the right sidebar (for updates) on this page,where I didn't see any warning.

However, if you then go to the "contact" page here, there is a warning, or, let us say, guidance:

Please refrain from submitting any individual's personal information, including their email address, without their permission.

But, like I said, I first landed on the front page where I was invited to sign up for "updates" and received no caution and was subject to no verifying-type questions. And 40 minutes later, I still haven't gotten the most basic confirmatory email, something everyone else in the world has, and which usually takes 30 seconds or less to receive.

So, the Fishy Information snitch page tells you not to sign up other people, but the main page doesn't.

And look, come on, simply telling Obama's cultists not to harrass conservatives is... unlikely to produce the supposedly-sought result.


Test Two: I signed up as "Xtian Xtremist," with a false city and so forth, and the message "Please harrass me with your propaganda. I love it."

No confirmatory email, asking me if I really want to be harrassed. (In fairness, I already claimed that's what I wanted.)

They've really tightened up the system. It takes three seconds to get a confirmatory email from everyone else, but apparently they're willing to take my interest on faith.

Kind of like they were willing to take it on faith that all those millions of donations coming in from overseas were really from American citizens, who just happened to live in France, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia.


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posted by Ace at 12:00 PM

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