Defend the Democratic Process: Don't Let Congress Block Your Email

Last month, Congressional offices began to adopt new software that blocks the delivery of email their constituents send from a wide range of nonprofit organization websites.

This new technology--launched just a short while ago and already in use by more than 30 Representatives--requires you to answer a "logic puzzle" question before you can submit a comment. This is designed to limit communications to only those constituents who go directly to the lawmaker's own website to send a message.

What this means: unorganized individuals will be able to talk to their representatives, but people who wish to communicate as part of a movement through nonprofit organizations will be blocked.

The Internet has served to open up democratic communication between millions of Americans and their elected representatives. This new, higher level of participation should be welcomed, not disabled. It is the responsibility of those we elect to listen when we take the time to communicate about important issues.

Now, a wide array of organizations--including Care2 and Consumer's Union--have come together to oppose this with one voice. Join us to stop Congress from blocking your voice! Ask your Representatives to agree to accept constituent email from organization Websites and to protect your right to communicate with them, whether independently or through bulk email.

Dear Congressmember,

I recently learned that congressional offices may be implementing new technology that will effectively block email communications from constituents to their Representatives. I strongly urge you not to implement this new function. If your office has begun using it, I request that you disable it.

This 'Logic Puzzle' will block millions of messages from people like me who expect you--and elected you--to listen to us. The use of such technology, to limit communications between the public and elected officials, is wrong.

Even worse, you apparently believe that the messages I send through organizations to which I belong are spam! Nigerian banking messages are spam. My messages are real letters from me to you. I send these messages myself. They are not generated without my permission, and I understand that I'm sending them.

I may not have time to personalize each message, but I expect you to accept the messages and I would like to know your response.

This attempt to differentiate among constituent messages--accepting only unorganized communications but blocking communications where individuals are working together to deliver a strong message--raise questions about the infringement of my constitutional right to organize and petition my government.

I enjoy using the Internet to participate quickly and effectively in decisions that affect me and my family. I don't want to go back in time to the days when people had to fill the halls of Congress with paper postcards or attend mass events to get your attention. The Internet has made political action more accessible to me, and therefore makes this country more democratic.
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