Security vendors blocking some Obama campaign e-mails

Obama presidential campaign spewing spam?

Anti-spam vendors have blocked some e-mail from the campaign of Democratic Presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) because customers have complained about receiving irrelevant messages, an executive at MX Logic said Thursday.

For several weeks, said Sam Masiello, vice president of information security at Colorado-based MX Logic, his company has been receiving complaints from customers about messages from the Obama presidential campaign. MX Logic started blocking many of those messages "relatively recently," said Masiello, who declined to be more specific about the timing.

Other anti-spam and messaging services have taken similar steps, Masiello said. He would not name the other vendors, but said that "based on conversations with our peers, they've had to take the same stance."

The complaints stemmed from messages that concerned rallies and other political events scheduled in other states, said Masiello. "From the standpoint of the users' perspectives, I can see why some messages are considered spam," he said. "The messages are not really relevant to the individual receiving them. You may live in Colorado, but you may be receiving mail about rallies in Virginia or rallies in Ohio."

People who sign up to receive messages from the Obama campaign provide their e-mail address and their zip code. The latter, said Masiello, should be enough for the campaign to better target recipients.

Masiello acknowledged that users must opt in to receive messages from the Obama campaign. "But when you look at it from a users' perspective, they want content that's relevant to them," he said.

MX Logic is not blocking all e-mail from Obama's campaign, nor is it blocking any from the campaign of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz). "We're not blocking mail from the info@barackobama.com address," Masiello said. "Users haven't been complaining about that mail. We're getting lots more about the messages from the individual state addresses."

Few if any complaints have come in about messages from McCain's campaign, perhaps because the McCain volume through MX Logic is so small. Masiello said that MX Logic handles approximately 20,000 messages daily from Obama, but just a few hundred from McCain, the Republican nominee.

In addition to e-mail messaging, the Obama campaign has used technology in a variety of ways during the campaign. It recently launched an iPhone app and has used an online tool to help supporters canvas neighbors.

The GOP has fought back with a Facebook parody mocking Obama. And yesterday McCain's campaign protested YouTube's removal from its site of some McCain videos.

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Gregg Keizer

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