The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia has released a report detailing B.C.’s political parties’ disclosure of voter information to Facebook.
The Privacy Commissioner’s investigators found that political parties turn over personal information of voters to social media platforms, such as Facebook. While all parties reported disclosing email addresses of their known supporters to Facebook, the NDP reported disclosing the full names, phone numbers, city of residence and date of birth, The Liberal Party reported that it uploads its list of financial donors to Facebook.
According to the report, the parties do this for two reasons. First, it allows them to directly advertise to their existing supporters on the Facebook. Second, it utilizes Facebook’s “lookalike” feature. This is a tool which Facebook employs to analyze the data of their users against the data of a party’s existing supporters, so that the party can advertise to the users who “lookalike” their supporters. Using data in this way diverges from a voters’ reasonable expectations of privacy when it comes to the use of their data, says PIPA.
Because political parties are not included under privacy laws in Canada, there is a even greater need for regulation and accountability for parties who are sharing our data with companies, like Facebook, who are infamous for privacy violations.
This post was written by a CCLA-PBSC Rights Watch student. Views expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCLA or PBSC.