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Privacy Politics

Presidential Campaigns Leak Supporters' Info To Tracking Firms 67

Posted by timothy
from the incompetence-or-incontinence dept.
Peter Eckersley writes "Stanford privacy researcher Jonathan Mayer has published new research showing that websites of both the Obama and Romney presidential campaigns, which are used to communicate with and coordinate their volunteers, leak large amounts of private information to third-party online tracking firms. The Obama campaign site leaked names, usernames, zip codes and street addresses to up to ten companies. The Romney campaign site leaked names, zip codes and partial email addresses to up to thirteen firms."
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Presidential Campaigns Leak Supporters' Info To Tracking Firms

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  • Leak? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by amicusNYCL (1538833) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @06:07PM (#41847357)

    That's not so much a "leak", and more of a "take this". They probably even get paid for it.

  • Obama and Romney have been sending me 12 page full color magazines daily for the past twelve weeks. I think there comes a point when campaign money should be capped.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Do you live in Ohio or something?

    • How do you think the US debt clock got so high?

      Politicians think it is a game and the debt clock is showing their score.

    • I'd like to suggest $0 as a starting point & we can dutch auction our way down from there. Sounds good?
      (it would make a refreshing change if the fuckers just sent us the money directly for our votes, don't you think...? :)

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Obama and Romney have been sending me 12 page full color magazines daily for the past twelve weeks. I think there comes a point when campaign money should be capped.

      Consider yourself lucky. I get nothing. You know why? Because my vote doesn't count. I'm not in a swing state. My state is poling 55 to 40%. Your vote counts, mine is just noise.

  • by msauve (701917) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @06:19PM (#41847491)
    but, considering that congresscritters exempted themselves from the Do Not Call phone list, it will never happen. We don't have a representative government, but one made of people who think they're better than those they supposedly represent.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Hillgiant (916436)

      Maybe I am the odd one. I WANT someone better than me in office.

      • by msauve (701917)
        I want someone in office who's so incompetent they can't get anything done. Less government is better government.
        • by ganjadude (952775)
          But you dont want someone so incompetent that they get too much of nothing done, than you get...well... look around for the past 12 years
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          I want someone in office who's so incompetent they can't get anything done. Less government is better government.

          That's quite a simplistic view on how societies work. Why don't you put your money where your mouth is, there are regions in the world with hardly any goverment at all, move there to see how you like it. Waziristan in Pakistan comes to mind, or some regions in Africa, in Somalia or some parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, for instance.

        • by jd2112 (1535857)
          Good idea, but you also need to make sure there is a fairly even split between parties to avoid "all the idiots are on the same side" issues.
      • by jd2112 (1535857)
        Good luck with that. Politics are a great example of the Peter Principle in action.
    • Without a political call exemption, the law would have been thrown out under the First Amendment of the Constitution. You know,

      Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

      Don't like it? Amend the US Constitution. Good luck with that.

      • by msauve (701917)
        "Without a political call exemption, the law would have been thrown out under the First Amendment of the Constitution."

        Somehow, I think you really believe that. "Free speech" includes freedom _from_ speech, The DNCL is a voluntary, opt-in system. No one has any Constitutional right to contact me via a service for which I'm paying. It's not clear why you think political speech has special dispensation - there's nothing in the Constitution about what types of speech are covered.
      • by frdmfghtr (603968)

        How does a political exemption get the Do Not Call law past the Constitution? One's right to free speech doesn't obligate me to listen to it.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    If you want to know which trackers are in use on a page, install Ghostery [ghostery.com]

    I also run AdBlock Plus and NoScript.

    Any other plug-ins that I'm missing?

  • Not real "leaking" (Score:5, Informative)

    by Coolhand2120 (1001761) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @06:23PM (#41847557)
    This isn't leaking in the traditional since that someone is giving databases of information to 3rd parties. The leaking going on here has to do with GET requests to their respective web sites containing identifying information in the URL. This is probably unintentional and may not even be occurring at all since a lot of the pages use SSL and the URLs are encrypted. Of course internal analytic software can (and probably does) retain the URLs, but that's hardly "leaking" information to 3rd parties. If I was using a pay-for analytics suite and found that the people I'm paying were looking at my private information (tracking data) I would be pretty pissed off and might even consider legal action.

    TLDR: No "leaking" going on here. The headline does not match the content of the article.
    • by OneAhead (1495535)
      Mostly agreed, except that they could be a bit more careful to either have no identifiable account information in the URL or not have trackers on pages that contain account information; preferably both. What would be a better term than "leaking" for this blatant disregard of basic security practices? (That's not a rhetorical question - more an attempt to start a lame semantic discussion.)

      BTW, this, boys and girls, is why you should never browse without a decent script blocker. The revenue and sustainabili
    • ** If I was using a pay-for analytics suite and found that the people I'm paying were looking at my private information (tracking data) I would be pretty pissed off and might even consider legal action. TLDR: No "leaking" going on here. **

      In the information world, what is leaked cannot be unleaked. Whether used or not, the information got out, this is a leak.

      • My only point was that the article title implied that the campaigns, or members of the campaigns, where giving the information to third parties intentionally in nice CSV files. When people say "leak" in the context "campaign" that's what they think. This is a leak in the since that your sink has a leak, not that someone in the campaign is leaking information. The context makes a big difference. The use of the word is hyperbolic.
  • by cervesaebraciator (2352888) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @06:51PM (#41847837)

    Of all the reasons I don't support either candidate, of all the ways either candidate is apt to violate my privacy, this is the least.

    Still, I'll add it to the list.

  • This is why I only donate through my own tiny 503(c)(4), sometimes by way of a sham 501(c)(3), so it is much easier to obscure my name. Seriously, I like to support the candidates I like, but I don't necessarily want them screwing around with my contact information or bugging me at home, so I do it as anonymously as possible.
  • If I'm not mistaken, Red Cross, CARE, Oxfam, etc. do this, in fact I'm not sure who doesn't. (Mommy, I'm tired of Bronco Bama and Mitt Romney on Slashdot.)
  • Here [crunchbang.org] is an excellent collection of resources and tools relating to security and privacy on the internet, courtesy of Tunafish at the CrunchBang Linux discussion forums. Those who want to take a slightly more 'proactive' stance against the collection of their information should find this worthwhile reading.

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