Political Identity

Political Identity

Summary: On the heels of the 2004 election, one of the things that candidates want is email addresses. Not just any email addresses, but email addresses of likely voters with particular persuasions in their district.

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TOPICS: Amazon
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On the heels of the 2004 election, one of the things that candidates want is email addresses. Not just any email addresses, but email addresses of likely voters with particular persuasions in their district. Broken down by precinct, if you please.

The fact that they want them isn't surprising. The Internet was shown to be a powerful way to connect to voters during the last election cycle and any tech-savvy political operative knows that its only going to be more so in the next.

We could talk about whether we want to start getting political Spam, but that's not as interesting to me as to think about who has those addresses right now. For example, Amazon, has them, or at least a lot of them. They know your address and they know your email address. What's more, they could even provide a profile of you based on books you read.

Again, we could talk about whether Amazon should sell this information to anyone, political or not, but what's more interesting is the possibility that they could selectively sell the information. They could decide what causes they support and then sell, of give, information to just those causes. This gives Amazon disproportional political leverage.

In a related scenario, raised in my recent discussion with Dan Solove, there's nothing to prevent Amazon from selling or giving information to the Government for whatever reason.

Now, I don't actually think Amazon will do this, but the fact that it's possible raises interesting questions. When I enter into a transaction with a company, I'm not inclined to have them use my information to support causes I don't support.At present, I'm powerless to prevent it.  We worry about the government having access to records about what we buy or do, but pay little attention to the aggregation of that same information in the hands of private companies.  They have even less accountability to us than the government does.  That should trouble us all.  

Topic: Amazon

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8 comments
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  • TPMs are the answers, but...

    ...the privacy fringe nutcases will make a big stink. Never mind that it can keep your information safe and provide you with privacy.

    In case they haven't noticed, companies are DRMing up everything regardless and spyware and crooks are getting the best of the common man.

    But hey, let's pass laws for jail time for pre-release pirates.
    ordaj@...
  • Ghost in the Shell

    Only semi-related to this topic but I invite anyone with these types of concerns to watch any of the Ghost in the Shell anime movies or series for a deep philosophical glimpse of the issues related to technology.
    jion
  • Where have you been

    There are multiple databases out there available to anyone willing to pay $20 or some subscription fee that not only has your address, unpublished phone number and payment history, but also any police record you may have. At this point businesses are more of a big brother then the government can hope to get to.
    cniners@...
    • yes and no

      Those things are generally public records. My email addresses are not.

      If you buy a home, your address is a public record. So is your phone number if it's part of that record. But I never made my email address part of a public record. Since it was not assigned to me by an ISP or anybody else, there's nobody to put it in a public record.

      Technically, I did have to provide a valid email address when I registered domains, and that's a public record. But I don't have to read anything that goes to it, so it has an autoresponder instead.
      wresnick
      • Personal Rights

        This is one that should have been fought long ago. A person's surname should be considered as personal property and has belonged to your family for generations. No one should have the right to use or sell your name without your consent. This would definately have put a big cut into junk mail and telemarketing.
        thefox220
  • Yes, but would they take the risk?

    If Amazon did that, I'd be inclined to hold it against them. I'd also be inclined to raise a fuss about it.

    Amazon has my email address. But since I own my own domains, I was able to give them an email address that only they have. If they send email to amazon@mypersonaldomainname.com, then I know it's either from them, they supplied it to somebody else, or their system was compromised.

    There's also the rare possibility that somebody guessed it, or managed to generate it using software, while at the same time missing all the other email addresses at my domain, but people who do that sort of thing will use domain names of email providers since they have a better chance of it working than if they pick a domain name at random.

    So far, I've had only two cases where such an email address was compromised. One was used with a well known organization that conducts polls. They admitted that their system had been compromised and apologized profusely. The other was the Atlanta Journal Constitution, who is so lacking in integrity that they ignored the issue.

    In both cases, I merely disabled those email addresses so the spam went away. If I did the same with my amazon email address, I'd have to start doing business elsewhere.

    It's not the type of thing that a company can do quietly or secretly. Enough people will be able to tell where the information came from that it would soon become public knowledge.
    wresnick
  • political identity

    It's those repugnicant spooks at it again, acting like they were everyone's big brother. Thats just another reason to deal in cash and with brick-and-mortar sites.
    rMatey
  • Political Identity

    In the UK improper use of such information is regulated by the Data Orotection Act.
    petermoorman@...