I'm An American. Who Do I Sue?

Federal Spam - Not So Tasty

A couple of weeks ago I took the early morning train up to Dublin to renew my accidentally expired passport. The US Embassy in Dublin is open for approximately 3 hours each morning, 4 days a week, so this meant getting on the very first train from Cork and I still barely made it before they closed for what is presumably a 21 hour lunch.

Entering the compound one might politely describe as The Ugliest Building in Dublin was a very bizarre experience. In the US, I’m used to armed police on the streets, metal detectors in schools and heavy security at shopping malls. In Ireland, none of that happens. So it is extremely disconcerting to find ones self in Ballsbridge, entering an already freaky compound through something that very closely approximates airport security complete with uniformed guards, a metal detector, an x-ray belt for my handbag, and the requirement to leave both my phone and my nail scissors at the checkpoint. I spent more than a moment wondering if I was being shielded from a potential hostage situation or actually be taken hostage.

Neither event came to pass and everyone was exceedingly nice, from the guards to the cashier to the lovely French woman who helped me complete my application. My new passport was required for our mortgage paperwork, so I was anxious to get it back as soon as possible and minimise any delays. When the form asked for my email address, I provided it willingly so that the consulate could have one more way of contacting me if there were any issues.

There was no opt in/opt out checkbox and no disclaimer or fine print of any kind, so I naturally assumed my email address would be used only for purposes pertaining to the application on which I provided it.

Today, three days after the prompt delivery of my shiny new passport, I received an email from wardendublin@state.gov – something long and rambling to do with absentee ballots and Minnesota. Here it is in all its spammy glory:

Spam glorious spam… click for full version

First of all, I have no idea what they’re on about, nor do I care. I have never lived in Minnesota and doubt I could locate it on a map if challenged to do so. I have certainly never voted in Minnesota, and voting information specific to Minnesota is irrelevant to me – as it is to every other US expat in Ireland who is from any of the 49 states not named Minnesota.

Second of all, and far more irritating, is the following:

  • I have no idea what this list is. It is not identified in any way in the footer. The sender, likewise, is unidentified.
  • I did not ask to be on this list, and at no point was I told that my information would be used for what amounts to federal spam.
  • Most importantly, there is no mechanism provided for me to opt out of this list now that I’m on it.

I am, to say the least, irate. I have an immediate need to drop someone’s trousers and hand out a suitably painful, lesson-instilling spanking. I am absolutely positive that this practice must break a US or EU spam law, and I am old and crotchety and spoiling for a law suit.

I don’t want to write a letter to some dusty office in Dublin, Brussels or Minnesota; I want to haul someone into court and beat them up for their pocket change, because I am exactly that pissed off.

So tell me, dear interpipes, who do I sue? Seriously.