[EAS] Voter Info

pjk pjk at design.eng.yale.edu
Fri Dec 12 21:42:32 EST 2003

Subject:   Voter Info

Another atrocious "people issue" of networked information.
Most issues of data security are people issues.  --PJK

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

(NewsScan Daily, 11 December 2003)

Unbeknownst to most citizens, state officials are selling their
voter-registration information to political candidates, nonprofit
groups and data collectors who then combine it with census data,
purchasing histories, credit reports and magazine subscription
lists in order to fine-tune their messages or marketing pitches to
specific constituencies, such as pickup truck drivers who subscribe
to "Soldier of Fortune" or SUV drivers who buy lacy underwear at
Victoria's Secret. And while some states limit sales to political
groups, 22 states lack any criteria restricting who may purchase
the information. "Voters fill out these forms in good faith,
thinking the information they're providing is needed for the purpose
of administering elections," says California Voter Foundation
founder Kim  Alexander. "Then they get phone calls or a knock on the
door from campaign strangers who have a list of their personal
data." Alexander says the information requested by many states,
such as Social Security numbers and mother's maiden names, could
easily be used for identity theft. The situation has become
especially troubling since Congress passed the Help America Vote
Act last year, which required that states develop a centralized,
statewide voter-registration database, making it possible for third
parties to collect huge amounts of data very easily. Alexander says
the reason there's been no outcry against the practice is that "the
people who ultimately decide how voter data should be allowed to be
used are the politicians. Politicians need to rein in the laws, yet
they're the biggest consumers of data." (Wired.com 11 Dec 2003)

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