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Move over robo-calls, states sell email addresses for campaigns to reach voters


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#ixzz1lbPqQnpN?test=latestnewsFox News:

If your email inbox starts overflowing with messages from political campaigns this election season, it could be because your state sold you out.

A Fox News study has found 19 states plus the District of Columbia, now ask for an email address on voter registration cards. In nine of those states, email addresses from the cards are then sold to political parties, organizing groups, lawmakers and campaigns who can use them to send unsolicited emails.

If it were a Viagra ad, it be considered a crime in some states. But a political message, that's all perfectly legal.

The CAN-SPAM (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing) law enacted in 2003 puts restrictions on commercial mass emailing, but not on political mass emailing. Politicians can "spam" and do. Political messages of any kind, including electronic, are protected free speech under the First Amendment.

"Political communications are not spam. Political communications are a demonstration of free speech in America," said Stuart Shapiro, president of iConstituent, a Washington, D.C.-based firm which uses state-generated email lists to send messages on behalf of clients on all sides of the political spectrum.

"There is a tenet in government that is based on communicating with our constituents, and email is one of the most effective ways to do it," Shapiro said. "People look forward to it and want it."

"Politicians love the fact that their perceived freedom of speech is more important than voters' privacy," said Shaun Dakin, president and CEO of The National Political Do Not Contact Registry, a non-profit voters' rights advocacy group based in Falls Church, Va.

Dakin said his organization has received hundreds of thousands of complaints from voters who are fed up with political groups and candidates invading their privacy via phone calls and emails. He said he expects complaints to climb as more states start asking for email addresses.

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