Will petitioners be spammed?

December 17th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Idiot/Savant blogs at No Right Turn:

Back when I was petitioning for the Keep Our Assets referendum, I discouraged people signing it from filling out the email address and phone number boxes because I did not trust the Labour Party (and specifically the Labour Party) not to abuse this information by using it for purposes other than the one it was collected for (“To keep up to date with the campaign”). 

I am not glad to have that suspicion confirmed.

To point out the obvious: this is a screaming violation of Privacy Principle 10, and possibly Privacy Principle 11 if you take the collecting agency as Roy Reid, the formal petitioner, rather than the parties who provided the footsoldiers. And it is grossly unethical. Quite apart from that, its also stupid, burning both potential supporters and their activist base (who may not be too keen on having their hard work perverted to violate people’s privacy).

As for what to do about it, firstly people have a right of access to information held about them by agencies – so if you gave the campaign your email address, you can always check with Labour to see if it has somehow migrated its way into their fundraising and supporter’s databases. And if the information is used, then I recommend lodging a complaint with the Privacy Commissioner. You should also publicise that complaint over social media (or, if you feel like it, by emailing a press release to Scoop – but social media is probably enough, because people like me will retweet it if we see it, and journalists will pick up an easy story like this). Political parties are (sensibly) afraid of bad publicity, and this is the best stick we have to enforce ethical behaviour on them. Sadly, it looks like we may have to use it.

Legally you will have no recourse as MPs are exempt from the definition of an agency under the , but you can publicly highlight any breaches.

18 Responses to “Will petitioners be spammed?”

  1. Graeme Edgeler (3,244 comments) says:

    The Labour Party is not an MP. Roy Reid is not an MP. Grey Power is not an MP.

    There’s recourse if there needs to be.

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  2. burt (11,786 comments) says:

    But get in quickly – if Labour win in 2014 they will probably retrospectively validate their actions and tell us to move on…..

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  3. PaulL (6,116 comments) says:

    The link for the evidence goes to the standard. Random tangent here, I see that their URL is in the form:

    That implies to me that you can only have one post with the title “Muppets”. So if someone else does something more muppet worthy, you won’t be able to call that post “muppets”, it’ll have to be “Muppets take 2” or something like that.

    Interesting blog design decision.

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  4. wikiriwhis business (5,217 comments) says:

    ‘There’s recourse if there needs to be.’

    Considering the HOP cards with Auckland Transport are used to share customer info I doubt Auckland Transport is concerned about public recourse

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  5. ross69 (3,651 comments) says:

    I didn’t realise that you could put your email address on the form. Do some people think the request for email addresses was for the good of the petitioners’ health? 🙂

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  6. ross69 (3,651 comments) says:

    On a related topic, it’s great to see DPF linking to The Standard. 🙂

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  7. Bill Ted (93 comments) says:

    The Greens have been quite open (not in the media, but in person, dare I admit to knowing some Greens) about saying they intended to use the email addresses they gathered. They added them all to their email newsletter distribution list. From memory, I think Andrew Campbell was the genius behind that decision, but I’m open to being corrected.

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  8. OneTrack (4,602 comments) says:

    It’s ok when the left does it. Nothing to see here, move along.

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  9. Pete George (24,828 comments) says:

    There is most opposition to this use of petition contact details at The Standard but notably two party activists seem to think it’s ok – toad from Greens and Te reo Putake from Labour who thinks as long as anything they do is remotely connected to the asset sales they can do whatever they like.

    This suggests they may be doing it. I’ve asked both parties to advise if they are but they haven’t responded.

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  10. Reid (21,592 comments) says:

    The Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act 2007 allows you to make a complaint to DIA if you’re sent a spam, defined as: ‘unsolicited commercial electronic messages’

    Question is; is an unsolicited electronic message containing Gween pwopaganda “commercial?”

    I bet you could make a case for it, if the newsletter contains any solicitation for donations.

    To make a complaint: http://www.dia.govt.nz/services-anti-spam-index

    Tell everyone you know. One imagines Campbell Live will feature this information prominently, as part of its ‘fair and balanced’ reporting.

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  11. Harriet (7,615 comments) says:

    Labour has for a while now being useing the ALP handbook.

    I’ve noticed them doing things that the ALP at both State and Federal level did time and time again over the last 10 yrs or so.

    The election is 11 whole months away, and with the shamelessness of their actions to date; the constant yeah na to selected audiences, and spamming as just two recent examples, Labour will lose the election because they will increasingly be seen as shysters – people who can’t be trusted – as when people have ‘skin in the game’ i.e their uncertain jobs, low incomes, expensive mortgage repayments, high cost of living – as Labour repeatedly describes it all- then Labour will increasingly be seen as being off the ball and reckless, and therefor unreliable. That’s how the Aussie’s saw it and they voted that way. When Rudd became PM just 7 yrs ago every State and Territory was under a Labour government. Earlier this year none were.Now Canberra has gone too.

    People will not be prepared to carry the risk of Labour governing on top of everything else. The economy is doing o’k, but it, along with the world economy is still ‘relatively’ fragile. All major economic issues that NZ faces are not due to National’s stewardship but due to the structural nature of the global market place: uncertainty.

    The reason we know that is because NZ rates very very highly in the corruption index. Hence stewardship of the economy must be ‘relatively’ sound. Something that Labour would never admit to the ‘rich pricks’ or the ‘poor’. I thought National would have though.

    And when people give it some thought, they will be very uncertain of a Party that is mostly being run by people who are not only outdated, but have more than an ‘unsavory skepticism’ towards societies practicalities to function properly; participants in free trade and open markets, wealth creation, entrupenership, investment, capitalism, and general prosperity through education, working, saving and AMBITION – the nessecery ingredient to prosperity and happiness.

    But by not having those as the central planks in THIS election year, but instead the ALP handbook, and up against a government that has had those planks for the last 6 years, means one thing and one thing only when stewardship springs to mind:

    No fucken ability!

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  12. rangitoto (903 comments) says:

    At least arsehole@greenparty.org should be getting lots of spam

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  13. PaulL (6,116 comments) says:

    @Harriet: ACT, Tasmania and SA are still Labor.

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  14. Nigel Kearney (2,043 comments) says:

    I get email I don’t want all the time. It takes 3-5 seconds each to read and delete them. Less if the subject line indicates I don’t need to open it. No big deal. And there is no privacy violation in sending someone an email using their own information.

    The problem with this continual whining about minor procedural missteps by the other side is that undecided voters may think these are the best criticisms we have. Instead, how about spending the next year focusing on what the policies of Labour/Green/Winston government would actually do to our country.

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  15. burt (11,786 comments) says:

    Nigel Kearney

    Right – so the law and the principle of the matter isn’t really important when apologists look for angles to defend the indefensible. ACC sending case files to the wrong person for example – they could have just been deleted in 3-5 seconds. Problem solved….

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  16. Harriet (7,615 comments) says:

    “….ACT, Tasmania and SA are still Labor….”

    They went back to Labour……the point I was making is that when Rudd became PM – Labor governments ruled everywhere – and over the 7yrs that federal Labour along with State Labor ruled – Labour got thrown out at each and every next election. As you say some got voted back in at the following. But it still says something about the problem with the ALP and the public – as the next highest ranked Liberal at the time was Cambell Newman – as ‘Lord Mayor’ of Brisbane.

    Or in other words – how did the Liberals manage that comeback – Nation wide? Instead Labour failed because the public got sick of the constant bullshit: class, race, gender warfare, spin, corruption of funds ect simply to ‘get votes’.

    Life is hard enough nowdays – people just expect a constant stream of truth so as to get on with their lives with ‘some surity’ in government. No one has the time for the rest of the shit.

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  17. PaulL (6,116 comments) says:

    The ACT never went Lib. Nor did SA. Nor did Tasmania. They’ve been Labor all the way through. Which mostly tells us that ACT is dependent on Federal govt for jobs, and full of crazy lefties, Tasmania is entirely subsidised by the Federal govt and has lowest income per head in Aus, it’s also full of pot smoking hippies who vote Green, SA is full of unions with Holden etc.

    They all went close to falling (except ACT), and Tasmania forced Labor into coalition with Greens. But they never went Liberal.

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  18. iMP (2,665 comments) says:

    Mps yes, but not the Labour Party a duly Incorporated Society? Lodge a complaint against Lab. Secretary Tim Barnett an ex-MP and official of the party.

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