Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Abuses of Power…unfortunately, not that surprising.

So this is what all those electorate office workers do for our MPs, at taxpayer expense, of course: collecting data on voters from correspondence directed to elected representatives.

Again, an article mainly dealing with Victoria (State Election a few weeks back) but it would not surprise me if Australia's two major parties are doing this is in every State and Territory. While I am surprised of the fact that our political parties are competent enough to utilise modern marketing strategies and techniques to better target potential customers (voters), this is a classic example of an abuse of power, especially as these same parties are apparently exempt from privacy legislation.

Not only "At the very least…" but all political parties should be forced to comply with every law and regulation that is enforced on businesses which rely on gathering data from their customers/potential customers. The fact that campaign workers and members of these political parties can have access to personal information serves to confirm the continual mistrust that many people have of politicians in general.

The Labor and Liberal parties (and any other political parties that use these same data –gathering techniques) should always indicate if any information is retained or added to databases etc. for any form of marketing or "information tailoring/targeting." What has the potential to undermine our democracy is the question of whether correspondence between an elected representative and their constituent is actively used in party political work. Conveniently, this may not be illegal but it surely sows mistrust in constituents who may not be of the same political persuasion as their representative but have nonetheless a legitimate reason for communication. The ever-present "I will work for all the people of (insert electorate name), even those who voted for my opponent" seem like shallow (or celebratory bubbly-induced) words indeed.

The names of the softwares that are used are a little interesting: Electrac (Labor) and Feedback (Liberal)...assuming the Liberal system to be similar to Labor's then the Liberals lose on naming honesty. Sphere: Related Content

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