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Canada Dashboard Digest | Notes from the IAPP Canada Managing Director, August 31, 2018 Related reading: Perspective: How proper data can reduce algorithmic discrimination

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Sometimes, when you look at modernizing an old way of doing things, it gives you an opportunity to ask yourself whether the old way of doing that thing was a good thing after all.

There’s a story from P.E.I. about how the government’s elections’ office is starting to modernize the old practice of sharing voter information with political parties during an election. The old way was pretty discreet, and I suspect most people weren’t even aware. It occurred when a voter presented themselves at an election voting station, presented their I.D., and then they were checked off the voter list. While this was happening, a volunteer from the political parties sat nearby and similarly crossed that same voter off their list at the same time. During the course of the election, the volunteer would report back to the political party, informing them of who had voted and who had not.

The more modern way of doing this is to have the government official keep track of who has voted electronically and then simply supply that information directly to the political parties during the election period. No more need for volunteers to keep track. More efficient, right?

The new approach, however, has raised concerns in P.E.I. and Privacy Commissioner Karen Rose is investigating. For me, however, both the modern and the more traditional way of voter surveillance raises issues. Were you aware that your decision to vote or not was being tracked by both the government and the political parties? And were you OK with that? While I understand there might be some very good reasons to try and motivate people to vote, is this the best way to go about it? It seems to me that this old practice – even if modernized – is something that merits further discussion. What does the average Canadian think? Would love to hear your thoughts.

Hope you have a good long weekend. 

3 Comments

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  • comment Djoko Susnjar • Sep 4, 2018
    Kris hi...This is the end of my long, long, extra long weekend... ;-) I just got info about IAPP and decided to prepare the exam. I noticed that you will organize a course in Toronto in approx 10 days. Not sure if I will be able to be there. How about Ottawa? Will you have similar event here?
  • comment Djoko Susnjar • Sep 4, 2018
    I did not know the fact that political parties had access to that kind of information. I am not 100% OK with that fact.  I am trying to think scenario how could be something similar abused in the real world? What effects can create on a personal level?  I can see the benefit for the parties and that is Advertising cost reduction and management. Simply you send flyers to those who vote or position Billboards in the voter-friendly area and reduce in the area that are not. 
    
    Sorry for the second post but the system doesn’t allow me the possibility to edit the previous reply and add extra text.
  • comment Bill Peddle • Sep 6, 2018
    This only became an issue as it was being sent electronically which with proper safe guards will be more secure than a bunch of paper that you hope get submitted at the end of the election.  My opinion it would depend on what information is being sent to the parties.  If it is just the name and electoral district I don't see an issue.  However if it is name & address where they may contact me then it can be a problem.