Ed Miliband wants your email password

Today’s big event on LabourList is Ed Miliband’s piece on the launch of LabourSpace.com. He writes:

Today I am launching Labourspace.com – the Labour Party’s campaign social networking site. I hope it will provide a unique home for organisations and people to host and promote their campaigns – and to bring their ideas to the attention of Labour ministers and the wider Party.

Before anyone writes about this great new initiative: I direct readers to this piece I wrote in March last year, on the subject of ‘Labourspace: great idea, awful execution’. This site has been around for at least nine months, possibly longer – and any tweaks since last March have been minimal. Its domain was registered as far back as August 2006. So we shouldn’t be judging this site by its potential: we should be judging it by its impact over those nine months.
It isn’t pretty. The most popular campaign on the site is ‘Proud of the NHS at 60’ (in 2008): a massive 16 people appear to have endorsed it in the last 4 months. And when you click on ‘Labourspace winners’ to see which campaigns have been ‘brought to the attention of senior Labour politicians’… you see a promo graphic. Ouch.
Jon Worth wrote something on this last week, wondering: ‘Is anyone except a party hack going to use the tools that Labourspace.com offers? Sadly I think that the answer to that is a no.’ I (still) agree. And in these days post-Facebook’s explosion, the exponential growth of blogs, and everything else – surely it’s less likely now than it was a year ago.
Worst of all… the ‘tell your friends about this campaign’ feature still works the same way: it wants you to hand over your personal email account login and password, so it can bulk-import your contacts, and help you spam them. I couldn’t believe this back in March, no matter what ‘do no evil’ promises they wrapped it in; and I’m stunned they haven’t had a rethink on it. Just insane.

6 thoughts on “Ed Miliband wants your email password”

  1. Didn’t Obama’s email lookup thing work in the same way as this? Was the President “insane” as well? I think that guy did quite well!

  2. Seriously, even leaving aside the current government’s recent problems with losses of personal data, and the (supposed) trend towards a ‘Big Brother’ state, it’s entirely inappropriate on sheer principle to be encouraging people to hand over their personal email details to anyone.
    The government-backed Get Safe Online site couldn’t put it any clearer: ‘Don’t give away your password or any other personal information.’ Yet here’s the governing party undermining that.
    Just cos Obama did it, doesn’t make it right. Especially when there are better, safer ways to do exactly the same thing (eg Facebook). And especially when you aren’t using your party’s main domain name: I’ve found at least one domain very similar to labourspace.com which remains unregistered. It’s a phishing scam waiting to happen.

  3. Simon – your kidding right. Facebook have the exact same look up tool (and yet your promoting them as the solution). You REALLY don’t know what your talking about do you?

  4. Simon is absolutely correct, Steve. Your comment is unnecessarily rude. There are open protocols such as OAuth which it would be great to see Government implementing but sadly, they are not yet widely supported and Tangent clearly is a couple of years behind the pack when it comes to web standards/security/usability.
    The ‘Beta’ nonsense has to stop too. A phased release to a tame group of party faithful is one thing but to launch a site in the wild in v0.2 is insulting to users and embarrassing for the developers concerned. Interesting also that it has been around for so long, a bit like Number10.gov.uk – still in Beta and now forgotten it seems.
    I wonder if this is a case of the client not acting on advice they are given or their chosen technology provider being clueless. In any event, it’s obvious to everyone but Labour apologists that the latest clutch of web offerings are going nowhere and will likely be offline by this time next year.

  5. Steve, you’re in no position to comment. Your English is terrible. Do you know the difference between “your” and “you’re”?

  6. ZaNu-LAb – Good to see someone upholding standards of English here, but I am disturbed that Steve seems to have plagiarised the obverse of the very error of which I my complain in this week’s episode. There, my local council’s ‘outreach and consultation’ or some such blether had used in its latest glossy ‘you’re’ as the third-person possessive. (For Steve’s information, that’s ‘your’.)
    Be warned: any more such infractions and I shall consult my lawyer.

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