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Ouch. Oregon GOP Divulges Nearly 2400 Email Addresses.

Surely, they didn't mean to do it on purpose. But, on September 29th, the Oregon Republican Party sent an email that divulged nearly 2400 of their supporters' email addresses.

Presumably, the email - subject "Presidential Debate Watching Parties" - was supposed to have been BCC'ed to the big list. Unfortunately, whoever staffs emailalert@orgop.org put the address list in the TO field.

Why does this matter?

  • For starters, it's a massive privacy violation of everyone on the list. I'm sure there's at least one person out there that doesn't want to be "outed" as a Republican.

  • Second, it exposes everyone on the list to spammers. One of the biggest sources of spam are these forwarded messages with long lists of addresses in the TO or CC fields. Republicans on the list can expect to be subjected to massive loads of spam for the next 6-12 months (longer if they validate their addresses by viewing the spam.)

  • Third, it's a huge financial loss. Email addresses are usually priced at around $110-150 per thousand - and that's just for a one-time use. To buy a good, qualified list can cost upwards of $250 to $500 per thousand. The Oregon GOP just gave it away for free to the entire list. At least some of those folks will take advantage of the gift.

  • Worst of all, it's highly likely that most of these emails never made it to the inbox. Major ISPs (like Yahoo, Hotmail, MSN, Earthlink, and AOL) will flag these messages as spam and drop them in the bulk or likely-spam box.

What should the party do now? Apologize immediately, and notify their supporters that they've violated their privacy and exposed them to spam. As always in politics: come clean, tell the truth, and ask forgiveness.

As we've discussed previously here at Politics & Technology, it's imperative that folks sending political bulk email use a good Email Service Provider (ESP). They'll handle the data management, appropriately throttle the outbound volume, deal with the bouncebacks, and help ensure that your message gets through to the inbox. Dig in and learn more here.