Google will end its Gmail spam filtering pilot program in the US amid continuing threats from Republicans.
According to The Washington Post (opens in new tab),a recent court filing saw Google lawyers detail the plan to end the pilot program at the end of January 2023, instead of continuing with its testing and development.
Google’s filing also asked the US District Court for the Eastern District of California to dismiss the case, implying that “Gmail’s spam filtering policies apply equally to emails from all senders, whether they are politically affiliated or not.”
Gmail political campaign filtering
It has been several months since Republicans first launched complaints that Google was sending its emails directly to users’ spam folders, with one paper suggesting as many as 67.6% of emails were being marked as spam compared with just 8.2% of Democrats’.
Google rejected the accusations, however the company designed a new pilot program in response that allowed parties to sign up as recognized, legitimate senders. This was met with a mixed bag of reactions, including concerns that Gmail users’ inboxes would be inundated with unwanted content.
Google spokesperson, Jose Castañeda, said he had hoped that the scheme would “provide more certainty for senders during this election period”.
Of the more than 100 committees that signed up for the pilot program, Google made it clear to the California court that the RNC had not.
“Many other politically-affiliated entities chose to participate in that program, which was approved by the FEC, ” the filing says. “The RNC chose not to do so. Instead, it now seeks to blame Google based on a theory of political bias that is both illogical and contrary to the facts alleged in its own Complaint.”
While the pilot program’s days are limited, Gmail maintains that effective spam filtering remains a key part of what makes the email service so popular and successful. José Castañeda, a Google spokesperson, told TechRadar Pro:
“As the FEC’s recent bipartisan decision confirmed, we don’t filter emails for political purposes and like the FEC complaint, this suit is without merit. We will keep investing in spam-filtering technologies that protect people from unwanted messages while still allowing senders to reach the inboxes of users who want to see those messages.”