Politicians add to the spam problem in run-up to US elections

IT security firm Sophos has reported that both the Republican and Democratic parties sent out unsolicited emails campaigning for support in advance of the recent US mid-term elections.

The emails were sent out in the days leading up to the November 7th election date, and urged recipients to take to the polls and cast their votes. Samples were picked up by Sophos’s global network of spamtraps – providing evidence that the emails have not been targeted specifically at US voters, and could have been distributed to lists created through online email address ‘harvesting’.

“A Sophos spamtrap is not a legitimate US voter, so why did it receive emails telling it to vote in the mid-term elections?” said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos. “Given that the internet is already being clogged up with spam, do we really need US politicians adding to the problem by indiscriminately sending out these unwanted messages?”

According to Sophos, while legally the emails are not classed as spam – as US political parties are exempt from legislation such as the CAN-SPAM Act – the campaigns bear worrying echoes of traditional spamming activity. Sophos experts note that recipients have not necessarily opted-in to receiving political messages.

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