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Canadian Minister Mined Data To Target Email To Gay Voters 145

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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  • by crazyjj ( 2598719 ) * on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @09:11AM (#41448397)

    Apparently, this was the source of the email list:

    nearly 10,000 people who electronically signed a 2011 online petition supporting a gay artist from Nicaragua, who was then facing deportation.

    I think it's perfectly reasonable to assume that those opposing the deportation of a gay artist would also be supporters of gay rights in general (though not necessarily gay themselves).

  • by samazon ( 2601193 ) on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @09:21AM (#41448495)

    Ok, so, I studied PSC and worked for a statewide campaign here in the USA last year. That said, there is very, very specific databasing/tracking software used by the political parties (We used NGP-VAN [ngpvan.com]) to do this exact thing. We used data from previous Dem campaigns (this was a gubernatorial race; we got the AG, a couple lists from previous governors, and some lists from unsuccessful previous campaigns for various state and local positions) as well as data we collected from cold-calling and anything we found on the internet. Early in the campaign, my role was to track down contact information for our database, as well as any relevant info on where people worked and what their strong political leanings were (Southern Dems are much different from Northern ones). It's easy, especially when it's for calling for contributions.

    There are only about 4M people in my state, so there are more competitive mayoral races in large cities. However, when you're dealing with 10M+ people, you have to rely on outsourced data. I get junk email from a bunch of social action campaigns because of petitions I've signed. I emailed all my state reps over a couple issues. So they know who I am. They also know who you are if you have been politically active online at all.

    This is not an inherently bad thing. Expecting privacy on the internet, expecting your actions not to have unforeseen consequences, is the mark of a person who doesn't understand how the world, and the web, and people in general, work. Just for funsies, go request a dump of your Facebook ad topic data.

The party adjourned to a hot tub, yes. Fully clothed, I might add. -- IBM employee, testifying in California State Supreme Court