OpenMedia launches tool for voters to request personal information from political parties
“My Political Data” empowers citizens to exercise rights to their personal information
October 4, 2019 — Internet advocacy group OpenMedia has launched a new tool to help people request exactly what personal information Canada’s political parties hold about them.
MyPoliticalData.ca is an easy-to-use tool that empowers people to exercise their privacy rights and file a formal request for their data under the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA).
In recent weeks, concerns have been mounting over the volume and types of data political parties are collecting about people in Canada, and how that data is being used. Digital canvassing apps from American companies are being used by many of the parties, including the Liberals; a People’s Party candidate has been accused of walking off with a Conservative Party voter database; the Green Party leaked voter information in some of its training videos; and the BC Privacy Commissioner has been investigating information sharing by the NDP.
“Political parties hold vast amounts of highly personal data about people in Canada, but there are few safeguards and no transparency about what information they have about us, and what they’re doing with it,” said OpenMedia Executive Director Laura Tribe. “Each of the parties’ privacy policies assures individuals they have the right to update their personal information – but how can you update it, when you don’t even know what information they have? We launched this tool to help level the playing field and put power back in the hands of voters, so people can demand the accountability they deserve. We have a right to know what information the parties have about us.”
MyPoliticalData.ca is based on the Access My Info tool created by Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy, and Open Effect. It has been adapted to enable access to information requests to be sent to Canada’s main political parties, and currently supports requests to the Bloc Québécois, Conservative Party, Green Party, Liberal Party, NDP, and People’s Party. Users can select which types of information they wish to request from one party at a time, but can generate separate requests directed to each party through the system. Information that can be requested includes: Identity Information; Other Personal Information (such as gender, ethnicity, age, sexual preference, income); Party Participation data; Financial Information; Voting Information; and Social Media records.
A recent analysis of the political parties’ privacy policies conducted by OpenMedia found that none of the parties even came close to meeting basic best practices for privacy as outlined by Canada’s Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) and the Officer of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC).
So far over 1,700 requests for information letters have been generated using the tool, available at: https://mypoliticaldata.ca