A Weblog About Topics and Issues Discussed in the Book Spam Kings by Brian McWilliams

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December 16, 2004

Web warfare at LaptopLobbyist.com

Until it recently became the target of "spam rage," LaptopLobbyist.com was a fairly obscure web site. But I'm sure the publicity generated by its recent run-in with a Philadelphia radio reporter has boosted the conservative lobbying group's mission, which it describes as waging "Web Warfare against the entrenched Liberal Establishment."

I decided to check out LaptopLobbyist's email newsletters, which reportedly sent (former) WHYY radio reporter Rachel Buchman into a tizz earlier this month. (Buchman claims she never signed up for the newsletters and grew exasperated trying to unsubscribe.)

LaptopLobbyist.com says it uses a "double opt-in" process to manage newsletter subscriptions. In other words, you sign up for the "Action Alert" via a "subscribe" link atop its home page (or via a pop-up window), and LaptopLobbyist emails you back asking you to confirm whether you actually want to receive the newsletter.

This is industry-standard stuff. And it worked when I tested it this week. I signed up, confirmed my intent via email, received a few issues, and then successfully unsubscribed via email.

But it seems LaptopLobbyist.com isn't consistent about double opt-in. There's a link at the site's secure privacy page (among other places) for subscribing to the Laptoplobbyist.com "Daily Digest." It doesn't generate a confirmation email. You can type in anyone's email address and LaptopLobbyist will dutifully begin sending the newsletter without double-checking. The site was prompt about removing an email address when I tried to unsubscribe. But this subscription method is ripe for abuse.

The site has other options for doing email mischief. A link that appears on several pages labeled "Tell Your Friends" is designed to send a message touting LaptopLobbyist.com to the email addresses of up to 10 people with the push of a button.

Web warfare, indeed.

Posted by brian at December 16, 2004 7:30 PM


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