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European Parliament defends filtering citizens' emails as spam

Accused of turning a blind IT system to messages about a contentious vote
Tue Apr 09 2013, 11:24

THE PRESIDENT of the European Parliament has responded to questions about his organisation filtering citizens' emails as spam, saying that he does not see it as a problem and will do nothing to stop it from happening again.

In March Christian Engström, MEP for the Swedish Pirate Party, called the blocking of emails a disgrace.

"This is an absolute disgrace, in my opinion," he said. "A parliament that views input from citizens on a current issue as spam, has very little democratic legitimacy in my opinion."

Then he promised that he would write to parliament president Martin Schulz to complain. According to a post on his website, he got his reply yesterday (PDF).

The letter admitted that a filter was installed for messages including the term "eliminating gender stereotypes", and that it did do its job.

Schulz said that in one case one email address was responsible for sending over 100,000 emails to the parliament of the subject. In total, said the letter, over 700,000 emails on the subject were sent and of these around 250,000 got through to their intended recipient.

"Given the high number of emails received in a very short period of time, the limited number of different email accounts used to send the emails, the usage of automated means for producing the emails and the usage of mainly two servers to send the emails, the IT department considered that the EP was the subject of an abnormal massive email flow," he wrote.

"The intervention of the technical services is justified to install a filter to reduce the number of messages from external sources concerning the report in order to ensure the functioning of the EP's email service."

Engström said that he found this "completely unacceptable". µ


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