August 17, 2009

White House Alters Rules For Email Updates

White House spokesman Nick Shapiro said on Monday that the White House is changing its e-mail signup procedures to avoid sending out unsolicited e-mails related to the current health care reform initiative.

The move follows complaints by some who said they had received email updates but had not signed up for such messages.

However, the administration denied signing people up without their consent, and seemed instead to blame third-party activist groups for the problem.

"We are implementing measures to make subscribing to emails clearer, including preventing advocacy organizations from signing people up to our lists without their permission when they deliver petition signatures and other messages on individual's behalf," Shapiro said.

Fox News Channel first reported Shapiro's comments on Sunday.  The cable news network had asked the White House to explain how some people who said they had never signed up for administration emails nevertheless received the messages.

"The White House email list is made up of email addresses obtained solely through the White House website," said Shapiro.

"The White House doesn't purchase, upload or merge from any other list. Again, all emails come from the White House website as we have no interest in emailing anyone who does not want to receive an email."

"If an individual received the email because someone else or a group signed them up or forwarded the email, we hope they were not too inconvenienced," Shapiro said.

"Further, we suggest that they unsubscribe from the list by clicking the link at the bottom of the email or tell whomever forwarded it to them not to forward such information anymore."

The complaints involved a 1,500-word message sent last week from White House senior adviser David Axelrod related to the administration's campaign to overhaul the nation's health care system.

Politico.com said a third-party organization could have sent a comment to the White House's Web site in the name of each person who had signed an online petition.  Such a move could have led the White House to add these individual e-mail addresses to the distribution list. 

Politico.com also reported that the White House has disabled its e-mail tip box [email protected], which had encouraged Americans to report "fishy" information related to the current health care reform proposals.