“Inbox beware: Federal watchdog approves Google program to let campaigns skip spam filters”


The Federal Election Commission, the nation’s chief campaign finance watchdog agency, gave its blessing to a program proposed by Google on Thursday that will effectively allow federal campaigns and other political committees to bypass spam filters and land in the inbox of Gmail users. The commission, in a 4-1 vote, said that Google’s program would not amount to an impermissible contribution to the committees, clearing the way for the search giant to implement the program should it so choose.

The program, as described in a proposal from attorneys from Google, would allow emails from federal campaigns and committees in the program “that meet objective security criteria” and do not otherwise break Gmail’s terms of service to “not be affected by forms of spam detection to which they would otherwise be subject” and automatically land in a user’s inbox. These political senders’ emails would continue to be directly routed to users’ inboxes, unless or until a user opts out from receiving them from a particular committee or campaign.

Google’s proposal said it intends to run the program through January 2023, unless the program “degrades the user experience.”

The FEC has been inundated with thousands of comments about the proposal, which one commissioner called “record breaking,” with virtually all of them urging the agency to not approve the program.

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