Spamming for America

Organizing for America (OFA), the 13-million strong political email list that grew out of the Obama campaign juggernaut, has been cranking out emails since inauguration in support of the president's political and policy agenda. With a squeaker of a congressional election in upstate New York on Tuesday, it's no surprise Democrats are leaning on OFA for their get-out-the-vote efforts. The group is sending out emails urging members of the list to call voters in New York's 23rd district reminding them to vote.

However, the effort has been done in such a careless fashion that if you click on a link to OFA's “online tool” it publicly reveals the names of 25 voters and their phone numbers. Once you print the call list, the OFA website produces a script where you are instructed to ask a series of questions for the person you are calling. You're supposed to dutifully record the information about the voter and report back to OFA. By the end of the process, total strangers with the imprimatur of calling on behalf of an organization founded by the president will be privy to the name, phone number, email, age, and gender of 25 voters in New York. According to BizzyBlog, the bottom line is this:

Organizing For America’s nationally-orchestrated, last-ditch, get-out-the-vote campaign in NY-23 is a privacy-invading and potentially dangerous effort.

NY-23 residents should be aware that because of a pervasive lack of controls in OFA’s get-out-the-vote operations and a poorly designed campaign:

-The person calling them could be a potential spammer, thief, or even a violent criminal.

-That person will be asking for personal information that no one should be willing to give out, including but perhaps not limited to personal e-mail addresses, cell phone numbers, and the time of day voters plan to vote.

-OFA may be unable to track down persons who call on its behalf if unauthorized, illegal, or criminal acts occur as a result of information learned during this campaign.

There's already a precedent for criminals trading on the president's good name. Three people in New York were arrested in August after they invaded a home and shot two people under the ruse of selling “President Obama health insurance policies.” 

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