Republican committee sues Google over email spam filters

Oct 21, 2022, 7:58 AM | Updated: Oct 22, 2022, 10:25 am
Republican National Committee chairman Ronna McDaniel speaks during a Get Out To Vote rally Tuesday...

Republican National Committee chairman Ronna McDaniel speaks during a Get Out To Vote rally Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

(AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The Republican National Committee has filed a lawsuit against tech giant Google, alleging the company has been suppressing its email solicitations ahead of November’s midterm elections — an allegation Google denies.

The lawsuit, filed in the District Court for the Eastern District of California Friday evening, accuses Gmail of “discriminating” against the RNC by unfairly sending the group’s emails to users’ spam folders, impacting both fundraising and get-out-the-vote efforts in pivotal swing states.

“Enough is enough — we are suing Google for their blatant bias against Republicans,” said RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel in a statement to The Associated Press. “For ten months in a row, Google has sent crucial end-of-month Republican GOTV and fundraising emails to spam with zero explanation. We are committed to putting an end to this clear pattern of bias.”

Google, in a statement, denied the charges. “As we have repeatedly said, we simply don’t filter emails based on political affiliation. Gmail’s spam filters reflect users’ actions,” said spokesperson José Castañeda, adding that the company provides training and guidelines to campaigns and works to “maximize email deliverability while minimizing unwanted spam.”

The lawsuit focuses on how Google’s Gmail, the world’s largest email service with about 1.5 billion users, screens solicitations and other material to help prevent users from being inundated by junk mail. To try to filter material that account holders may not want in their inboxes, Google and other major email providers create programs that flag communications likely to be perceived as unwelcome and move them to spam folders that typically are rarely, if ever, perused by recipients.

The suit says Google has “relegated millions of RNC emails en masse to potential donors’ and supporters’ spam folders during pivotal points in election fundraising and community building” — particularly at the end of each month, when political groups tend to send more messages. “It doesn’t matter whether the email is about donating, voting, or community outreach. And it doesn’t matter whether the emails are sent to people who requested them,” it reads.

Google contends its algorithms are designated to be neutral, but a study released in March by North Carolina State University found that Gmail was far more likely to block messages from conservative causes. The study, based on emails sent during the U.S. presidential campaign in 2020, estimated Gmail placed roughly 10% of email from “left-wing” candidates into spam folders, while marking 77% from “right-wing” candidates as spam.

Gmail rivals Yahoo and Microsoft’s Outlook were more likely to favor pitches from conservative causes than Gmail, the study found.

The RNC seized upon that study in April to call upon the Federal Election Commission to investigate Google’s “censorship” of its fundraising efforts, which it alleged amounted to an in-kind contribution to Democratic candidates and served as “a financially devastating example of Silicon Valley tech companies unfairly shaping the political playing field to benefit their preferred far-left candidates.”

Since then, the commission has approved a pilot program that creates a way for political committees to get around spam filters so their fundraising emails find their way into recipients’ primary inboxes. Gmail is participating in the ” Verified Sender Program, ” which allows senders to bypasses traditional spam filters, but also gives users the option of unsubscribing from a sender. If the unsubscribe button is hit, a sender is supposed to remove that Gmail address from their distribution lists.

As of Friday evening, the RNC had not signed up to participate in the pilot program.

Republicans who have tried to cast doubt on the outcome of the 2020 election without parroting the most extreme and baseless claims about corrupted voting machines and stolen votes have often tried to blame big technology companies like Twitter and Facebook that they allege were biased against former President Donald Trump. A long list of state and local election officials, courts and members of Trump’s own administration have said there is no evidence of the mass fraud Trump alleges.

___ Colvin reported from Akron, Ohio.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

US bat species devastated by fungus now listed as endangered

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — The Biden administration declared the northern long-eared bat endangered on Tuesday in a last-ditch effort to save a species driven to the brink of extinction by white-nose syndrome, a fungal disease. “White-nose syndrome is decimating cave-dwelling bat species like the northern long-eared bat at unprecedented rates,” said Martha Williams, director […]
1 day ago
Pope Francis walks past a Vatican Swiss Guard as he arrives to meet with members of the Italian Sch...
Associated Press

Russia protests pope comments as Vatican seeks to mediate

ROME (AP) — Russia has lodged a formal protest with the Vatican over Pope Francis’ latest condemnation of atrocities in Ukraine, in which the pontiff blamed most of the cruelty on Chechens and other minorities in an apparent effort to spare ethnic Russian troops from criticism. The Kremlin’s ambassador to the Holy See, Alexander Avdeev, […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Ethiopia offers no date for end to blackout in Tigray region

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — There is “no timeline” for restoring internet access to Ethiopia’s embattled Tigray region, a senior government official said Tuesday. The restoration of Tigray’s internet service will be carried alongside the resumption of its phone and electricity services, though no date has been set for those goals, Ethiopia’s Minister for Innovation and […]
1 day ago
Ohio State University president Kristina Johnson speaks Jan. 21, 2022 in Newark, Ohio. Johnson says...
Associated Press

Ohio State leader Johnson resigning halfway through contract

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio State University President Kristina Johnson says she’ll step down when the school year ends in May, resigning after less than three years at the helm of one of the nation’s largest public universities. The 65-year-old Johnson thanked Ohio State students and employees in a letter Monday but did not explain […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Unknown aircraft targets Wagner base in C. African Republic

BANGUI, Central African Republic (AP) — Authorities in Central African Republic have opened an investigation after a low-flying fighter jet dropped explosives near a base for Russian mercenaries working with the country’s military. The attack took place in the early hours of Monday at the Cotenaf base in Bossangoa, where witnesses said both the base […]
1 day ago
John Beezley, of Bonham, carts out several cases of water after learning that a boil water notice w...
Associated Press

Houston lifts boil-water order affecting more than 2 million

HOUSTON (AP) — Houston officials lifted an order Tuesday that had called for more than 2 million people in the nation’s fourth-largest city to boil their tap water before drinking or using it. The boil order had been in effect since Sunday, when a power outage at a purification plant caused pressure to drop. The […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
Republican committee sues Google over email spam filters