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Canadian Minister Mined Data To Target Email To Gay Voters 145

Posted by timothy
from the state-is-not-your-friend dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Has Immigration Minister Jason Kenney been emailing you? Maybe it's because you're gay. The minister sent out an email on Sept 24 lauding the government's efforts to protect and promote queer rights abroad. It highlights the 'emphasis . . . on gay and lesbian refugee protection, which is without precedent in Canada's immigration history.' The Ottawa Citizen's Glen McGregor broke the story, complete with reaction over the 'creepy' letter. For many who received an email from Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney about gay refugees on Friday, the message raised one important question: How did he know I'm gay? The Conservatives have targeted written messages at minority communities in the past, most notably using direct mail lists to send out greetings to Jewish voters on religious holidays. Some recipients were alarmed by the prospect of the government assembling lists based on ethnicity or religious beliefs. Surely creating such a list will become easier when you are forced to use your real identities on social sites."
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Canadian Minister Mined Data To Target Email To Gay Voters

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  • internet (Score:4, Insightful)

    by masternerdguy (2468142) on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @07:54AM (#41448285)
    tracking your browsing might clue them in I suppose.
  • Yes, we can. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mevets (322601) on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @07:56AM (#41448291)

    Our current government is peculiarly amoral. Fuelled by a fundamentalist background, if it is not written down (ie. law), then there is nothing wrong with it. Even when it is written down, if it is for the greater glory, it gets an exception.

    These lists will come in handy when phase II of their minority targetting comes to pass.

  • So... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sqr(twg) (2126054) on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @08:02AM (#41448333)

    People sent email to the minister of immigration telling him they were interested in gay rights. The minister took note, and then wrote back to tell them about the work he's doing to promote gay rights. Is this not how democracy is supposed to work? Should he ignore his incomming email in order to protect the sender's privacy?

  • by martas (1439879) on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @08:04AM (#41448343)
    This seems more akin to targeted advertising by private entities than "the government assembling lists". They're don't seem to be doing it in any official capacity, but rather as a tactic for promoting their party. Not that I'm saying it's not creepy or a cause for concern! But the implication that this is akin to something the NSA might be doing is, I think, out of place.
  • by garcia (6573) on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @08:04AM (#41448349) Homepage

    But that was via assembling data people chose to submit to Target through their purchases. This is the government assembling data that their citizens probably didn't want to submit.

    Remember, you have a choice not to support private business intrusion, you don't have a choice not to support government intrusion.

  • Re:Yes, we can. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @08:15AM (#41448433)

    Why is this flamebait? It's actually even worse. According to the Harper government, if it's written in constitutional law, there must be something wrong with it. I don't think they've passed a single bill that hasn't been shot down by the supreme court for being unconstitutional. All the current debates also fall into this. They will waste months of debate to try to pass laws that the courts will simply say no to.

  • Re:internet (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nerdfest (867930) on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @08:25AM (#41448535)

    There's a big difference between targeting demographics and specific people.

  • by cowboy76Spain (815442) on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @08:53AM (#41448801)

    You are confusing terms.

    The GP didn't say that the government assumes the people who signed the petition is gay, he said that the government (or the minister) thinks that the people that signed the petition worrying about a gay immigrant may be interested in the rights of gay immigrants. I think this is a logic process (except for those who signed because they were relatives/friends/admirer of that particular person, and would not care for any other gay immigrant).

    The logic for "anyone who promotes legalization of drugs is a drug user" is a far more twisted. It involves making assumptions (like that only "current drug users" would support such a law).

    Also, the government didn't compile anything. Probably an association requested the people to sign in and it was that association who did compile the list and gave it to the government. The government just used it.

    The only concern about this issue is the government used data available only to them (that is, that no other political party had access to) and public means to publicite their gestion only for electoral reasons(instead of having the government run the country and the party prepare the elections). But that seems the usual conduct everywhere, so it is less of a news.

  • Re:So... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ToadProphet (1148333) on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @09:03AM (#41448885)

    There's a big difference between addressing a specific concern in a constituents correspondence and compiling a list of constituents sexual preferences to use for communication/propaganda/whatever. I've signed petitions regarding copyright reform - that doesn't give the government the right to put me on a list of potential pirates.

  • Re:internet (Score:3, Insightful)

    by causality (777677) on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @09:18AM (#41449045)

    Oh NO! The government is trying to figure out the numbers in demographics, so it can help form policy.

    Is there a reason you cannot form policy by treating all people equally, without prying into what they do behind closed doors?

    For example, are a particular groups of people located in a particular area where they can be better served with State or City services, vs the large overhead of a Feds.

    In the long run, all people are better served when federal resources are used only when that's the only way to get the job done. For example, only the federal government can fight a foreign war. Yes I realize that big tax purse held by the feds can look mighty tempting, but you wind up creating a monster in the long term (just look at the current US government versus what the Founders had in mind).

    What part of that 48 percent that doesn't pay taxes are actually low life free loaders, and what percentage are people really trying to make a difference in the world.

    Everyone should pay *something*, even if it's two cents a year. Since so many have been programmed to think in terms of class warfare, let me note here and now that I am not rich, not by any stretch of the word. I'm not waxing my yacht; I'm trying to make ends meet. Yes, I should pay something, even if it's just a token gesture.

    The problem is when the percentage who pay no taxes exceeds 50%, they become a tyranny to the minority who do and the result is the decline and destruction of the nation. The situation can be exploited to attain easy victories in elections. That's what class warfare is all about. That's why politicians do it. They pour that much energy and spend that much time talking about something not to help you and me, but to get elected again.

    Do we even bother measuring if a polity that is in place is working or not? Do we bother setting a metric of saying a policy is considered a success if it reaches this goal vs not.

    Apparently not. We still have a War on (some) Drugs that clearly isn't working, has never worked, is not going to work. Do you really believe the main problem is that we haven't yet found out how many of the drug dealers are gay? Do you think that will make a failed idea suddenly start working? The War on (some) Drugs is a failure to understand human nature, not some demographic.

    The Canadian politicians are merely watching how US politicians get elected again and again by rabble-rousing tactics like class warfare when it comes to income disparities, and old-fashioned divide-and-conquer when it comes to ethnic, religious and racial minorities. They too would like something that gets them elected again and again while drowning out with noise many legitimate criticisms against them.

  • Re:internet (Score:4, Insightful)

    by flyingsquid (813711) on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @10:05AM (#41449591)
    I know spam is annoying and all... but you Canadians should really take a moment and consider how amazingly lucky you are. Consider that in your country, the conservatives are shamelessly pandering to homosexuals, instead of trying to deny them the rights everybody else has, and treating homosexuality as some kind of failing to cure with prayer. Maybe some day people in this country will get emails about how Republican politicians have promoted gay rights abroad. It could be 20 or 30 years, as the kids who are now in college move up into political positions. Then again, given how things have changed rapidly on the gay marriage front, it may not be quite so long.
  • Re:internet (Score:2, Insightful)

    by eddy the lip (20794) on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @10:53AM (#41450435)

    As a Canadian, I am glad that we don't have to deal with the same kind of nonsense on this issue as our neighbours to the south.

    It should be noted, though, that this isn't out of any ethical conviction on the part of the Conservatives. After the last Liberal government passed the Civil Marriage Act in 2005, the Harper Conservatives campaigned on a promise to re-open the debate and hold a free vote (where members of parliament would be allowed to vote their conscience rather than along party lines). After they won a minority government, they introduced a motion to re-open the debate, which was defeated. Polls have been in favour of legalized same-sex marriage for some years. Harper has indicated he has no interest in revisiting the issue.

    The cynical among us might say that despite the Conservatives desire to repeal the Civil Marriage Act, they've seen that that's not the way the political winds are blowing, and aren't interested in threatening their position in power.

    I suppose one could see this as a victory for democracy, but it's not the kind of victory that gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling.

  • Re:internet (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Beardo the Bearded (321478) on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @12:17PM (#41451727)

    Every once in a while I hear what idiots Harper's Conservatives are; they are not. They are frighteningly politically savvy, and they are playing the game like no other party here is yet.

    I agree with you. The CPC is the most policitally savvy party we've had in Canada for a very, very long time. Harper is incredibly intelligent and highly underestimated.

    They play Canadian politics like I play D&D. I've made DMs leave town.

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