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US approves Google plan to let political emails bypass Gmail spam filter

A woman sits at a desk in front of a computer but her head is hidden because she is covered by a massive pile of envelopes labeled

This The Federal Election Commission on Thursday approved a Google plan to let campaign emails bypass Gmail’s spam filter. The FEC’s advisory opinion, passed by a 4-1 vote, said the Gmail pilot program is permitted by the Federal Election Campaign Act and FEC regulations “and will not result in prohibited in-kind contributions.”

The Federal Election Commission said the Google-approved program is “a pilot program to test free on a nonpartisan basis to authorized candidate committees, party committees and leadership. New Gmail design features PAC.” On July 1, Google asked the Federal Election Commission for approval to implement the pilot project after Republicans accused the company of algorithmically giving Democrats an edge.

Republicans can reportedly avoid some of their Gmail spam problems by using the right email configuration. At a meeting between Senate Republicans and Google’s chief legal officer in May 2022, the “strongest rebuke” was said to come “from Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida,” who claimed there was no email from his address. Emails arrive in inboxes,” The Washington Post reported in late July. “It was later determined that the cause was that the vendor didn’t enable authentication tools that prevent messages from being flagged as spam, according to people familiar with the discussions. “

As Techdirt’s Mike Masnick explains, “[I] sounds like Rubio’s spam operation doesn’t set DKIM/DMARC authentication settings . I know this bothers a lot of people. Hell, here’s our problem” We had to deal with it at Techdirt after we realized Google was spamming a lot of our emails. But instead of complaining about being “biased” against us, we explored the details and came up with how to fix our email configuration.”

Republicans cite a study to support their bias claims, but one of the study’s Republicans misrepresented the findings, one author said. The DNC told the FEC that Gmail’s plan would help Republicans expand the use of “abusive fundraising tactics.”

Gmail users don’t want this

Gmail users who submitted comments to the FEC overwhelmingly criticized Google’s plans. FEC received over 2,500 comments, which can be found on the docket page.

The committee’s three Republicans and Democrat Dara Lindenbaum voted for the order to approve Google’s plan. “Democratic Commissioner Ellen Weintraub, who voted against the order, said she’d have a hard time avoiding the fact that this is a unique benefit to political committees, and only for political committees,” Hill wrote. ‘”

Lindenbaum reportedly said: “I don’t want to [support this], for the same reason, all commenters Don’t want to support it, but I think the law and commissioner’s regulations and commission precedent allow it.” Democrat Shana Broussard abstained.

“We thank the Federal Election Commission for its expedited review of our request and we will reflect the positive and negative feedback received during the public comment period inside,” Google said in a statement provided to Ars. “Our goal in this pilot program is to evaluate alternative ways to address the bulk sender problem, while giving users clear control over their inboxes to minimize unwanted emails. As the pilot rolls out, we will Continue to monitor feedback to make sure it’s on target.”



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