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The White House said Sunday night that it will change its e-mail sign-up procedures after some recipients of a health-care e-mail complained that they had not asked to receive updates.
“We are implementing measures to make subscribing to e-mails clearer, including preventing advocacy organizations from signing people up to our lists without their permission when they deliver petition signatures and other messages on individual’s behalf,” spokesman Nick Shapiro said in a statement Sunday night.
After a few such recipients appeared on Fox News, White House officials determined that advocacy groups on the right or left could have sent in the names without the person knowing it.
For instance, a group might have sent WhiteHouse.gov a comment from each person who had signed an online petition, and the White House would have captured the e-mail address.
FoxNews.com reported: “FOX News has offered the White House examples of what hundreds of people say were unsolicited e-mails.”
Shapiro said in the statement: “The White House e-mail list is made up of e-mail addresses obtained solely through the White House website. The White House doesn't purchase, upload or merge from any other list. … [A]ll e-mails come from the White House website as we have no interest in emailing anyone who does not want to receive an email.
“If an individual received the e-mail because someone else or a group signed them up or forwarded the email, we hope they were not too inconvenienced. Further, we suggest that they unsubscribe from the list by clicking the link at the bottom of the e-mail or tell whomever forwarded it to them not to forward such information anymore.”
The complaints concerned a 1,500-word e-mail sent Thursday in the name of White House senior adviser David Axelrod, including “8 common myths about health insurance reform.” The e-mail mimicked the style of chain e-mails attacking President Barack Obama’s health-reform plan. The subject line: “Something worth forwarding.”
The White House had sent other e-mails to the list without complaint.
Fox News’ Major Garrett had a lengthy exchange about the matter with White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs at the televised briefing on Thursday.
Garrett said: “[F]olks have emailed me … [who] would like to know how they get an e-mail from the White House when they have never asked for one.”
Gibbs replied: “I'd have to look and see.”
Later, when Gibbs was asked whether public opinion would influence the administration’s Afghanistan policy, he quipped: “We're e-mailing Major's list.”