The Green Party in Ireland has been forced into making an embarrassing apology, after it was revealed that it had sent unsolicited emails promoting a viral video competition to technology bloggers.
The ecologically-minded political party has good reason for having red faces over the incident which has enraged some of the email’s recipients.
That’s because one of the Green Party’s own politicians, Eamon Ryan, is also the Minister for Communications who successfully pushed anti-spam legislation through the Irish Parliament just a few weeks ago.
According to media reports, the contentious messages were sent in the first week of January, two weeks after Ryan signed into law new regulations that allow for fines of up to â‚¬250,000 for firms who send unsolicited emails and SMS texts.
Michele Neylon, a blogger who writes regularly about technology issues, was so enraged by the email that he filed an official complaint with the Data Protection Commissioner.
Here’s the screenshot that Neylon, who claims he never signed up for a Green Party mailing list, took of the email he received in his inbox:
It’s worth remembering that this isn’t the kind of spam that many of us receive on a regular basis. It’s not trying to sell you potions to improve your performance in the bedroom, or informing you that you have inherited a small fortune from Western Africa, or asking you to click on the link to watch a sex video of a nubile female film star.
But it is still a nuisance if you haven’t asked to be sent it. And the lack of information about how one should unsubscribe from future mailings only makes things worse.
All organisations, be they small shops, large multinationals or political parties, need to keep their noses clean and be sure not to do anything via the internet which might damage their reputation.
The irony is, of course, that the Green Party were probably hoping that using email rather than traditional paper communication would be better for the environment. On this occasion though, their attempts to do the “green” thing have definitely backfired.
Of course, this kind of email probably wouldn’t raise an eyebrow in the United States, where political parties regularly bombard computer users with unwanted messages.