I have had this confirmed from two independent sources now, so it is not a mistake -Labour are spamming people.
Wellington Central MP Grant Robertson has a petition to Keep the Sevens in Wellington. You are required to provide an e-mail address to sign it. There is no privacy statement associated with the petition.
Some time after you sign this, my reader complained to me that he had received an e-mail from Grant Robertson. I investigated that e-mail, and actually concluded that it was not spam. It acknowldged signing the petition, encouraged the signer to promote the petition to other people and also said:
Also, if you want to keep up with other issues and events in Wellington Central, you are more than welcome to join my main mailing list here: http://labourparty.org.nz/page/s/wgtncentral
Now my response to the reader was that this was not spam. A one off response, linked to the petition I deemed appropriate, and it merely offered the opportunity to go on Grant’s main mailing list.
However on the 26th of March, the petition signer got another e-mail. This one was not from Grant Robertson and not about the Sevens.
It was from Chris Flatt, the Labour Party General Secretary, and all about mining. An extract:
Stop John Key’s plan to mine our National Parks
Last year the National Government announced it would review Schedule 4 of the Crown Minerals Act. That might sound innocuous. But it’s the first step towards the devastation of our National Parks by commercial miners. …
Campaigns cost money
Can you spare $20 to help fund resources for this campaign, please? I assure you it will be put to good use fighting National’s plans to mine our precious conservation estates.
You can make a secure donation now. Please visit: https://secure.labourparty.org.nz/donate
Let’s get going!
Chris Flatt – Labour Party General Secretary
Now my reader is absolutely 100% clear that he did not ask to be placed on the Labour Party mailing list. The only way they have his e-mail is from the petition.
So what has happened, is that all the good citizens of Wellington who signed the petition to save the sevens, have been added onto the central e-mail database for the Labour Party.
In terms of what Internet users define as spam, this is definitely spam. Labour are spamming people who have not consented, and they should stop this practice immediately.
Grant’s practice of a singular e-mail acknowledging their petition, and offering the chance to subscribe is an acceptable practice. But Grant, or someone in his office, has obviously passed on all those e-mail addresses to Labour Head Office, even if they did not take up the offer to join a mailing list.
So be warned. If you sign a petition promoted by a Labour MP, you may end up being spammed by them.
I’ve considered whether Labour have broken the law on this. The law only makes it an offence to send commercial unsolicited e-mails. Now Labour are soliciting money, which could be seen as commercial, but the Act has a narrow definition which is basically promoting goods, services, land or a business opportunity.
So it is not against the law, but it is spam, and probably against the terms and conditions of the ISP that Labour use.
As I said, I hope Labour will publicly state they will not spam people in future, and explain why they did so on this occasion.
UPDATE: Labour Party General Secretary has e-mailed a response:
In response to your post, we apologise unreservedly to those who received the mining email as a result of signing the sevens petition. This happened because the bulk email tool that the Party uses is also used by Labour MPs for other purposes, such as Grant emailing people to update them on progress with the sevens petition.
A staff member used the database of signatories without Grant’s knowledge or approval. This is highly regrettable and I can assure you and other readers that it will not happen again.
Good to hear it was an error by a staff member, and not deliberate.