Is your political party research for sale?

1 minute read

With a looming provincial election in British Columbia this May, I decided it's time to do some research. For those that follow my privacy and security blog, you know that I'm passionate about the privacy of British Colombians. I've written there before about the usage of trackers, as well as how the Canadian corporate media uses trackers to follow your surfing habits. It's important to know that some trackers are more dangerous than others; in order to determine which, you'd have to review the privacy policy of the tracker itself. My friend Christopher Parsons has written articles on the trackers Doubleclick and Quantcast discussing their use of  data collected from various websites. In summary, while not all equal, all trackers are bad. Trackers collect full details on every page you were on, what you looked at on the page, and for how long. That's a lot of valuable information for the website owner. It makes me wonder - how much of our political party research is for sale?

This quickly came rushing back to me as I was reviewing the policy documents of the four major B.C. political parties to see what, if anything, their stance on privacy, security and technology was. I quickly discovered that all four major B.C. political parties are using trackers. I'll leave it up to them to explain why they're using trackers, but it does beg the question - are they selling your information? Would the 3rd parties they are providing that information to be willing to sell that to the other political parties for competitive advantage?

The stats as of today, March 16, 2013:

B.C. Political Party Trackers
Conservative Party 1
Liberal Party 4
NDP 4
Green Party 5

Do they offer a secure version of their website?

B.C. Political Party Is it available with TLS/SSL
Conservative Party No; certificate for secure.bcconservative.ca
Liberal Party No; certificiate for localhost.localdomain
NDP Redirects to insecure website?
Green Party No; certificate for nationbuilder.com

 

It's worth noting that even the governing body Elections BC use two trackers, and does not offer a secure (SSL/TLS) version of their website.

You can install Ghostery for your browser to see which trackers are being used on the sites you visit, and you can use this tool to block them as well. As to finding the political parties' respective stances on privacy, security and technology, I'm still looking...