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Howard the spammer

August 28th, 2004

The right wing of Ozplogistan has lined up fairly loyally behind Howard until now. There are plenty of people happy to vote for a liar. But is anyone out there loyal enough to advocate voting for a spammer ?[1],[2]

fn1. OK, it’s Howard’s son who actually does the spamming, but it’s Howard’s money and message.

fn2. While I’m at it, a quick note on my previous post on “legitimate” companies that employ spammers I emailed two of those mentioned (couldn’t find an email address on the website for the third) but got no reply.

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  1. August 28th, 2004 at 10:26 | #1

    BTW, religiously clicked on Spammer and ….

    Not Found
    The requested URL /m.au/articles/2004/08/27/1093518092781.html was not found on this server.

  2. John Quiggin
    August 28th, 2004 at 10:36 | #2

    Fixed now, thanks

  3. August 28th, 2004 at 12:29 | #3

    In 2001 I was happy to vote for Howard, the effective liberator of the Socialist Republic of Timor. His liberating actions spoke louder than his lying words.

  4. August 28th, 2004 at 15:59 | #4

    When the Australian equivalent of the SPAM act was enacted, the Parliament clearly intended to exempt political content from the anti-spamming rules. So the question here isn’t one of illegality, but appropriateness – where there is one rule for politicians and another for everyone else.

    However, in its favour is that taxpayers money is already spent stuffing electorates mailboxes with fridge magnets and anti-terror alerts. It’s probably more environmentally friendly and I feel less guilty about sending it straight to the bin.

    Of course, politicians risk their own reputations by utilizing the same marketing practice as some very dubious folks on the internet, and no doubt for some it would be the final straw.

    It would be very funny if their mail servers get blacklisted and they find that they are no longer able to email one another.

    They could probably would run afoul of the CAN-SPAM act if one of those registered on the electoral roll was in California when he received the email.

  5. Peter Murphy
    August 28th, 2004 at 16:36 | #5

    I disaprove of spam. I also doubt its efficacy – even if respondents weren’t pissed off about it.

    The crucial difference between a mass mailout and a mass emailout is that you have to state your postal address to get on the electoral roll. This information is public (available from the AEC or some libraries), and therefore available to parties. So there’s little change of (say) would-be candidates for Eden-Monaro mailing Kalgoorlie residents by mistake.

    So how are parties going to do the same with email addresses? Many people I know use web-email addresses like yahoo and hotmail, which don’t reveal people’s snail mail addresses without their consent. (Nor is their any requirement to register with a real snail mail.) Other people use company email, but companies do not generally share the personal details of their employees with outsiders. Then you have the private ISPs – but again, they’re not supposed to share their information without your consent. Each of these methods sounds like falling foul of data privacy legislation. (IANAL, so I’d like to hear some legal-minded blogger like Ken Parish comment on this…)

    It sounds like the spammers are going to have to guess – and guess wildly – to target their audience. There’s going to be a lot of headscratching punters in Texas wondering who the heck that “Member for Bennelong” is. Sounds vaguely like porn spam, now that I come to think of it…

  6. August 28th, 2004 at 19:57 | #6

    He he..

    Results from Mail Scan: Email Quarrantined.

    Line 4: Member*
    Line 8: Homosexual Marriage*

    Your domain *.liberal.org.au has been added to our spammers black list.

  7. John Quiggin
    August 28th, 2004 at 21:14 | #7

    I’m busy updating my MT Blacklist as we speak. Phentermine, Donkey Porn and liberal.org.au are all consigned to the dustbin of Internet history.

  8. Shaun
    August 29th, 2004 at 00:56 | #8

    I can’t understand why they are using SPAM.

    Firstly, how can pollies justify an exemption for political parties? I know why they want it but I can’t see the justification.

    Secondly, when Spammers spam eg Penis extenders, online degrees, cheap credit and drugs, they do so in a non-compulsory market. If they send out 1000 and only get two clicks to buy it doesn’t matter if the other 998 are annoyed.

    However if the Liberals send out a 1000 emails and get, say, 50 swinging voters to vote their way they could alienate the other 950. These people not only may not buy the Liberals “product” but they will vote for the opposing party: Labor.

    The only way around it is to send the Liberal SPAM to those who would welcome it.

    But what would be the point of that, they probably already vote Liberal!

  9. August 29th, 2004 at 06:19 | #9

    I can’t understand why they are using SPAM.

    Nepotism?

  10. scot
    August 29th, 2004 at 12:24 | #10

    election’s been called for october 9 this morning.

  11. Warren Ross
    August 29th, 2004 at 13:30 | #11

    It seems likely that Tim Howard’s relationship with the Liberal Party would also give him access to the Government Members’ Secretariat and the Feedback database. As this organisation and database are private yet funded through the public purse, young Mr Howard is in an extremely privileged position.
    I have written to the Chief Government Whip and member for Macquarie, MHR Kerry Bartlett, requesting access to the database for a little business idea that I have. I am not hopeful but thought it worth a try.

  12. August 29th, 2004 at 15:52 | #12

    I hate spam too, but is it any worse than leaftlets in your letterbox (which political parties interpret to be exempt from ‘no junk mail’ signs’) or direct mail?

  13. Peter Murphy
    August 29th, 2004 at 16:41 | #13

    There’s one difference between email spam and bulk mailouts. Bulk mailouts are paid for by the poster. It costs nothing for people to recieve it, except a little bit of time for dealing with the paper.

    Spam is unusual in that a lot of charges are passed onto the reciever. It depends on what bandwidth you have, and how you access your mail. If you are getting it from a POP3 server, you will be irritated. It you are trying to access a webmail account, it will cost you a lot of time. If you are accessing by mobile, or have the misfortune to use a phone modem in a timed charge area, spam will cost you money.

    The other thing about spam is – okay, it’s amusing how much spam nowdays tries to hides it’s identity before it displays itself in front of your eyeballs. I’ve seen it all: pseudorandom text unscrambled by Javascript, random keywords, downloaded pictures. The biggie is that spam always tries to hide its origin address. At least you know a mail from the Nationals comes from Bjelke-Petersen house.

    The Internet is a funny medium: it is easy to pretend that bandwidth is close to infinite and you can do what you like. That’s not true: 90% of emails are now spam. There is little connection between how much you pay and how much you can send out. Spam may not be parasitic, but it is the next worst thing.

  14. August 29th, 2004 at 18:26 | #14

    I want to see what the spam says – if anyone recieves one and can be bothered, please email it to me!

    Rowen’s comment suggests that the spam included something about the marriage amendment … I can only assume Howard would include mention of it under some kind of ‘list of achievements’, and if so that really pisses me off. Good on you Howard, you’re willing to disregard the democratic process (the Senate Committee) and legislate discrimination against a minority. It scares me that people will see that as a positive, and that its part of a plaform promoting his re-election.

  15. Paul Norton
    August 30th, 2004 at 10:37 | #15

    I post this with some trepidation, in the hope that I won’t be giving anyone ideas that they mightn’t otherwise have.

    A little under a year ago I was mortified to discover that an email had been posted to all the students at my university in an attempt to influence the outcome of the impending student union elections, with my University email address in the “From” field, and purporting to be from me.

    In the course of my efforts to convince irate and/or curious recipients that I had been impersonated, I learned that this kind of email fraud doesn’t entail hacking or any kind of sophisticated subversion of security, and can readily to committed by anyone with a modicum of knowledge of how the email software works.

    I wonder whether this offence will be repeated on a grander scale in the Federal election, and what safeguards the AFP and AEC will be putting in place to prevent it.

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