Sunday, October 14, 2007

Harper exploiting Canadians' privacy rights to his electoral advantage?

Canadians represented by Conservative MP's, or budding Conservative MP's might want to pay attention to a post Garth Turner did on the Conservatives' use of "CIMS," their Constituent Information Management System. This system goes beyond the typical information management that constituency offices have traditionally done, in prioritizing voters' electoral leanings, by address. That has typically happened through traditional canvassing, door to door, for eons in Canadian politics. So what's the big deal about what the Conservatives are doing? In addition to tracking voters likely voting intentions, now, when any constituent contacts their Conservative MP, on any issue whatsoever, the information they provide to the MP becomes a part of a vast Conservative database. The Conservatives then mine that database for information about voters, beyond their electoral leanings.

This may explain how the Conservatives are coming to acquire people's religious affiliations, see the recent complaints about voters receiving unsolicited Rosh Hashanah greetings from Stephen Harper. "How did he know I was Jewish," a voter might ask. Well, it could be the nifty CIMS software that the Conservative are using to get such data. If, for example, some of these voters called their MP's during the Lebanon conflict last summer with an opinion, it may have been duly noted and the information used to expand Harper's personal holiday greeting list.

Canadians should be on alert...if you contact your Conservative MP for anything...anything you say may be used to the Conservatives' electoral advantage. Got a problem in the constituency that is distinctly non-partisan? Doesn't matter. Whatever information you provide to identify yourself and perhaps others, can and will likely be used for the Conservatives' partisan designs.

So have Canadians signed up for this massive intrusion into their privacy? Not on your life...and the Privacy Commissioner is investigating the complaints from Jewish-Canadians who received these unsolicited greetings.

What is it about conservative politicians that prompts their desire to invade their citizens' privacy like this?