The VSM issue has got some students angry. They’re not angry about VSM. They support VSM. They’re angry that their names and e-mail addresses have been forged to send letters to MPs asking them to vote against VSM.
Meet the Orwellian titled “Save our Services” site. I suspect it really should be “Save our Salaries”.
The first thing to note about the site is that it is anonymous. Nowhere on the site (that I could locate) was a page telling us who set it up. You are asked to join a mailing list and don’t even know a mailing list of whom.
The registrant for the domain is a Caleb Tutty. He is a Labour Party activist who used to work for Judith Tizard and is on the national executive of Young Labour.
I have no idea if Caleb has been paid to do this site for NZUSA, if he is doing it for the Labour Party or it is his own initiative. That is because nowhere on the site (unless I missed it) is there any “About Us” statement.
Anyway on the SOS site, you can use it to send a message to all 58 National MPs, and some other MPs I think.
Most sites of this nature will send a confirmation e-mail to the supplied e-mail address, and you have to click on a link to confirm the message and have it sent out under your name. This stops people forging an e-mail address they do not control.
But this site does not verify e-mail addresses. You can stick any name and e-mail address in there, and it will send a message on without verification.
Some MPs have an auto-reply go to those who e-mail them. So various unsuspecting students have received an auto-reply thanking them for their e-mail – and they have said “But I never sent an e-mail”.
This is a basic security failure and it means that MPs who receive these e-mails have no way of knowing if they really are from genuine students against VSM, or if some flunkie is just loading random names and e-mail addresses into the website.
How pissed off would you be as a student. Bad enough student associations are taking $150 off you against your will. Even worse that they spend it fighting against a law change that will give you freedom of association. And just to rub it in, your name and e-mail address get forged and used on a website to try and stop you getting a choice about whether to join or not.
The VSM bill should pass its second reading tonight. After that just two more steps towards freedom for 200,000+ students.