A reader writes from Dunedin about how he received an unsolicited e-mail from Labour’s Dunedin North candidate, David Clark. He asked Labour how he got to be on their mailing list and their response was:
The list I have has come to me from a wide variety of sources from people who have agreed to further contact. I’m afraid only you can answer that question.
The reader responds to Mr Clark:
I just can’t imagine where I would have – if I were intentionally signing up to a newsletter (which I’m particularly unlikely to do, and even more so for a Labour candidate) I would have used my “proper” email address. Your assistance to try and figure this out would be greatly appreciated.
Now, you announced your candidacy just under a year ago. Obviously if you’re following the anti-spam legislation (which I understand you’re arguably exempt from as this isn’t strictly for commercial gain, but surely you’d stick to anyway under the premise of not wanting to be a spammer) then I would have had to specifically opt in for this mailing list sometime since then.
We can discount November and December last year as I was out of the country for this time, taking us down to a 10 month window.
I definitely wouldn’t have signed up to this through your web page (I would’ve followed you on Twitter first – which I’ve just done now), so we can discount that avenue too. I haven’t signed any petitions or anything in that time period, so if that’s a possible avenue we can ignore that too. I haven’t been to any Labour events, and have never met you so that must remove some more possibilities.
So we’re down to a 10 month window during which time I’ve never met you or been to any events you’ve been at in an official capacity, never been to your web site, and never put my name on anything Labour, yet in this time I’ve specifically opted in to your mailing list using an email address I wouldn’t actually use for this kind of thing.
Now that I’ve clarified my position, do you have any ideas of where it may have come from?
The reader just can not work out hos that e-mail address could have opted in to their list. Then another response:
Given the the list of possibilities you’ve ruled out, my best guess is that you may have been on a local Labour supporters list (in error?) that has been around for a while.
Which is unusual as he has not received e-mails before.
I have some idea of the challenges in this area as I used to handle the e-mails for National. I was always concerned about how we answer the question “How did you get my e-mail address” as the methods of collection did vary from area to area. What we settled on was to add a field to the database where we could denote the source of the e-mail address, and the date they signed up. So it might say “website” or “xx MP newsletter” etc.
Just offering to unsubscribe someone isn’t enough. If you are not sure if you have consent from someone, then send them a one off e-mail asking them if they want to be added to your database, rather than assume.
With the NZEI petition e-mail addresses, and the Sevens petition in Wellington, and other incidents Labour have shown a very lax attitude around ensuring consent for those they e-mail. There is no legal remedy for this, but there is a political one.