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Conservative database - privacy breach?

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More or less, more or less

Joined: 12 Apr 2006
Posts: 18112
Location: Seceded from the Ford Nation

PostPosted: Tue Nov 13, 2007 1:19 am    Post subject: Conservative database - privacy breach? Reply with quote

Tsk. The Conservative Party has come under fire for blurring some privacy lines between collecting private info about constituents, and using it to target their materials and fundraising. But it's probably not illegal.

There was a bit of a stink a while back when some presumably Jewish constituents received Rosh Hashanah cards. More of the same, it seems.

Biggest problem is that constituents coming to an MP with a problem are then put on a centralized database, and there are concerns that this is a breach of their privacy. And that it could have a chilling effect.

And given that it's Garth Turner who's raising this issue in the HOC, betcha the Tories are regretting booting him from caucus, huh?

... Privacy experts agree the practice is a clear breach of standard privacy ethics -- but probably not the law, because federal political parties fall into a legislative grey area.

... Both the federal Liberals and the NDP have separate databases for constituency work and voter tracking. Data does not migrate between the two.

But the Conservatives use a single clearing house for all data collection, storage, datamining, mailing lists, voter tracking and any other partisan use such information may serve.

Turner, the Liberal maverick who was elected as a Conservative in 2006 and subsequently turfed from the party, says every Conservative MP is required to use something called CIMS, an acronym for Constituent Information Management System.

... "Any time a constituent is engaged with the member of Parliament, they get zapped into the database,'' Turner said in an interview. "It's unethical and it's a shocking misuse of data.

... The Conservatives, who openly boasted about their state-of-the-art CIMS database after purchasing it in 2004, now refuse to discuss it.

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Michael Watkins
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Joined: 23 Apr 2006
Posts: 140
Location: Vancouver

PostPosted: Tue Nov 13, 2007 4:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is absolutely a scandal.

Based on published media reports citing Garth Turner, it would appear that the Conservative master database - CIMS - has been installed on constituency office and parliament hill computers.

Government computers.

Operated by government employees.

Collecting private data on Canadians for the Conservative Party of Canada.

Without their permission.

"We aren't making this up"

If this situation is widespread, as I have every reason to believe it is, the Government of Canada has become an official data collection organ of the Conservative Party. Funded by the taxpayer. Government staff, computers, communications costs, etc.

Put properly - Canadians will not react well to this, and its a clear breach of ethics and privacy legislation at the federal level and provincial levels.

A side note: Does that mean that the data is now public property and will be shared with all parties ?

CIMS can track everything about interactions with individuals, their political leaning, their hot button issues - everything.

mw, a former CIMS user, who was also briefed on the system in my former role as National Technology Chair, Progressive Conservative Party of Canada.
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Rufus Polson
Purple Library Guy

Joined: 11 Apr 2006
Posts: 3483
Location: SFU and/or the college of Riddlemastery at Caithnard

PostPosted: Wed Nov 14, 2007 1:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

For that matter, they probably give that data to, for instance, polling companies, PR companies they hire during campaigns, and hell, knowing the Cons, they probably sell it to whatever data mining companies will pay.
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