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Oops! Bush email campaign sparks blizzard of spam

Send these emails to as many people as possible, as the RNC chairman said...

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Updated Self-styled "leader in permission-based email marketing/e-messaging" ClickAction says it is working closely with the FBI and various ISPs to nail the spammers responsible for sending "millions of unauthorised emails" in the past few days. Said ClickAction coyly: "These illegal emails included references to a ClickAction hosted web site, but are neither sent nor authorised in any way by the Company."

At first ClickAction was willing to concede that the messages were "related to a political campaign" the company is running, but the truth spilled out later.

In a "Breaking Privacy News" notice posted at www.echampions.com (the GOP campaign site), it's conceded that "unknown third-party organisations are sending out unauthorised emails, that purport to be on behalf of the eChampions program, from lists not in our control."

In the past few weeks The Register has received messages sent by ClickAction on behalf of the George W Bush campaign, www.echampions.com. This is run by ClickAction on behalf of the Republican National Committee, as a matter of fact.

We've also been contacted by a couple of readers who received messages identical to the 'official' GOP ones we received, but the message headers indicated they came from spammers rather than the GOP/ClickAction Definitely Not Spammers double-act.

The bleat now up at eChampions confirms that spammers have indeed run with the ball and sent out "millions of unauthorised emails" on behalf of Dubya. Of course they are unauthorised, and as the spammers seem to have hijacked third party servers to send them out you can understand the FBI's interest.

But if they weren't authorised, they were certainly encouraged, and there are some people apart from the spammers who you might reckon are ultimately responsible. Look at the people walking hurriedly in the other direction protesting they're members of RECA and TRUSTe, for starters.

As the recruitment message for eChampions2000, sent out by ClickAction and signed by RNC chairman Jim Nicholson, says: "Your role as an eChampion is to send these e-mails on to AS MANY friends, neighbors and family members as possible." At the time we did say this was an encouragement to spam, but we didn't expect enthusiastic Dubya supporters (or indeed Gore secret agents - he invented the stuff, after all) to get quite so badly out of hand.

RNC chairman pulls trigger to spam millions for Bush? Oh dear, that's torn it... ®

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