Because I forget stuff. Part of

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Originally posted February 19 2007 at 17:02 under General. 0 Comments. Trackbacks Disabled.

The Prime Minister Just Spammed Me

Or rather his team of spin doctors, public relations gurus and brain washer’s did.

The UK government launched an experimental (and probably, from their point of view, regrettable) “ePetition” experiment. Anyone can set up a new petition and others can then “sign” that petition to show their support. It’s actually quite a commendable effort even if it does suffer from all the expected problems of vocal minorities, an obvious lack of proper debate and those who believe the prime minister should stand on his head and juggle ice cream. There are actually a few series petitions on there with which I agree with and have signed (I tend to have a problem with petitions because while I’ll be in general agreement I’ll find myself unable to agree with certain details of the wording…) One of the those petitions was against ID cards. I don’t intend to go into the problems with ID cards here (they won’t work, they’re intrusive…see No2ID for instance), I want to talk about the “response” I just got.

As part of the signing process you have to supply your name, address (must be a UK citizen etc) and, importantly, an email address. That email address requirement is an anti-spam, flood-signing, what have you measure (only one sign up per email address). 10 Downing Street (that’s how the from is styled anyway) just sent me a “Government response to petition ‘IDcards’” to quote the subject line. The email is “signed” by Tony Blair himself, though I’ll bet he didn’t write a single word of it, send it, read my name in the original petition, or anything else himself. The response says nothing new (it’ll work, trust us, it’s fine!) though it does at least state I [Tony that is, of course] recognise that these arguments will not convince those who oppose a National Identity Scheme on civil liberty grounds., while not actually acknowledging that those people might have a perfectly valid point. The thing is I wasn’t expecting such a response through email. Presumably this has been mass mailed to however many people signed that petition (27944). WTF?

First, and perhaps foremost, surely the correct place to respond would be the epetitions website, for all to see, including those who didn’t sign the petition because they disagreed with it, or were indifferent to it. A link to it would have still spammed a lot of peoples in boxes but not been as bad as the rather long thing (in plain and HTML formats) they did send.

The thing was though I was quite annoyed to be spammed like that at all, so I went looking at the privacy policy of the site. Indeed, that says We will only use the information you provide us for this purpose, and, unless you ask us not to (emphasis mine). The FAQ makes it clear that contact is through the supplied email address (why isn’t that clear in the privacy policy itself?) The trick is that unless you ask us not to clause, because how to ask them not to is far, far from clear. There’s certainly no check box when signing the petition. Presumably one has to email the only published contact detailed,, and tell them your email and the petition you don’t want all this contact about. How convenient.

So I look forward to the Prime Minister’s comments on Travel Tax, with not much way to stop them.

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