A political leaflet from UKIP got unwelcomingly pushed through our letterbox this evening. I’ve been wondering whether to give it the oxygen of publicity. As few people read this blog, I thought it’d more likely end up – appropriately too, perhaps – being the carbon monoxide of invisibility. So here goes.
Feast your eyes on the following:
As you can see, it’s titled:
The People’s Poll: “Should Britain the leave [sic] the European Union?”
The UKIP logos are quite small, but presumably legally visible. On the reverse side of the leaflet, we are told to: “Simply email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org”, answering “YES” if you think Britain should leave the EU and “NO” if you think it should stay in.
We are then told we will be contacted by email at the conclusion of the poll with the result. Our details, they assure us, will not be passed on to any third party (presumably, here, they don’t any longer mean the Lib Dems – though I suppose they might fear the Greens!!!).
A couple of questions, then, for the brighter and more knowledgeable souls who hang about our online ether:
- Shouldn’t a piece of party political literature which harvests people’s emails in this way notify us of how our data will be used? That is to say, is it really enough to suggest our details won’t be passed on to third parties?
- Is even this latter assertion true? After all, it’s a standard gmail account – presumably Google will be monetising and machine-reading the content: the email addresses, signatures (where they exist) and the nature of the responses provided. Who exactly is the data controller? Where exactly does it say anything to such effect? Yes. It’s true. We do have the name of the person – in very small print (as befits a political party I’m pretty convinced is aiming to hide its true colours until after the election – they’re certainly showing no pride in their logo in this particular instance) – who’s apparently responsible for publishing and promoting this leaflet. But I see no sign of privacy statements which go beyond the mention of that third party – nor, indeed, any sign they themselves might be remotely aware of any such need. (Compare and contrast, if you wish, this page from my own Labour Party in relation to the kind of information that may or may not be missing.)
- In conclusion, why hasn’t UKIP decided to use its own email infrastructure for this tautological “people’s referendum vote poll”? Why has it chosen, instead, to grab what I assume is a free gmail account in order to proceed with processing and cross-referencing what I assume will be, in most cases, voters’ data? And why is it so unclear exactly what they plan to do with the information? After all, if they’re not planning to do all the above, why bother in the first place?
It’s not the first time I’ve had communications from elected representatives and potentially electable candidates who use and reference bog-standard email services, mind. Not long ago, I had a reply from my own MP which came from a yahoo address. It asked me, if I wanted to respond to his response, to email him back on his proper one. Which begs the question: why use the yahoo one in the first place?
But this leaflet from UKIP tonight is in quite a different league.
So anyone know if it’s all in order? Anyone able to tell me if I’m just being picky?
Or is it fair to say that when you’re as undemocratic as they get, you’re bound to cram in as many high falutin’ words as poss in order to hide your desperately dirty tracks …