How low will the MN GOP go?

Very. ThinkProgress:
A story by Minnesota Public Radio reveals a disturbing new way that a political party is secretly grabbing sensitive personal information about voters.

This week the Minnesota Republican Party is distributing a new CD about a proposed state marriage amendment. Along with flashy graphics, the CD asks people their views on controversial issues such as abortion, gun control, illegal immigration, and so on.

The problem – the CD sends your answers back to headquarters, filed by name, address, and political views. No mention of that in the terms of use. No privacy policy at all. The story concludes: “So if you run the CD in your personal computer, by the end of it, the Minnesota GOP will not only know what you think on particular issues, but also who you are.”

These practices fall way below the standard for today’s polling firms and web sites. The norm for polling firms is to anonymize the data and report only statistical totals. The norm for commercial web sites is to have a privacy policy, with Federal Trade Commission enforcement if the web site breaks its privacy promise.

Without a privacy policy, the state party can tell your views to anyone at all. If you give the “wrong” answers on abortion or other issues, they can tell your boss, members of your church, or anyone else. In fact, these answers could get distributed to campaigns in your town during get-out-the-vote efforts – precisely the place where “wrong” answers can be most damaging.

The right answer here is simple. If you are collecting data and keeping it in identified form, then you should tell people. If you are selling your lists or sending them to other groups, you should tell that as well. That goes for all political parties.

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