Political Spam
The 5th Letter in the series Cyberactions

Unsolicited e-mail, mainly from commercial origin, has increased as much as 400 % in the last year. Most people do not like spam because it takes time to separate interesting messages from rubbish.

Political spam is not rubbish and has the objective that high-placed persons will hear the voice of the people.

In the Netherlands an action was organised to send an e-mail to the Prime Minister and 92 other world leaders. 120.000 people adhered to the action and 11 million messages were sent. But that was not exactly what happened. The activity of the activists was very small. 120.000 people only sent an identical e-mail to the organisers in which they adhered to a message written by someone else. The organisers recorded the number of received e-mail's and then sent one message to some world leaders with the remark that 120.000 people wanted a change.

You may hope that the world leaders did see the message but probably it was read by a lower civil servant and not forwarded to the leaders. There was hardly any pressure on the leaders and they were not hindered in their daily life.

I think that such actions do not carry much weight.

It is better when activists sent their own message with their own arguments directly to those leaders they select themselves. The organisers have only to supply the private e-mail addresses of the leaders which are not controlled by servants who will intercept unwanted messages. In this manner 120.000 messages can disturb somewhat the life of leaders whose decisions negatively influence the life of common people.

That is of course spam, political spam, the use of the cyber world to impress some leaders with your personal arguments. When their e-mail connection is disturbed they will know that many people do not agree with their policies.

Two months ago the British Internet Service Provider Pipex received a deluge of about 2 million spam messages and this halted temporarily its operations. 120.000 people who through an intermediary sent an identical message to 93 world leaders are less than a drop of water in the sea. But 11.000.000 e-mail's can have influence when they disturb the e-mail connection of some high-placed persons who will then know they cannot always freely do what they like to do.

Political spam just annoys top-leaders and an action in the cyber world will never be decisive. It has to be combined with actions in the real world.

Joost van Steenis (April 18 2001)


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6. Curtailing Internet
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