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B.C. privacy commissioner’s report on political parties may have national implications

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B.C. political parties need to be more transparent about how they collect data on voters. They are gathering too much without the individual’s consent. Those are the major take-aways from a report issued earlier this month by B.C.’s Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner (OIPC).

The findings could have widespread implications for how parties campaign — not just in B.C., but across Canada.

The report, Full Disclosure: Political Parties, Campaign Data and Voter Consent, originated in complaints about parties going back several years. This is the first such investigation in Canada — B.C. has the only privacy commissioner in Canada with jurisdiction over political parties under B.C.’s Personal Information Protection Act.

This wasn’t a forensic audit, and so we have to take the word of political parties at face value. The main source of information for all parties is the list of voters’ name and address collected from Elections BC They can also request voter participation data — if/when the individual voted in the last election. All of this is pretty standard, and it is used to target voters and encourage their supporters to vote on election day.

It gets interesting when you look at the other information that is merged with these basic........

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