Is Labour snooping on your emails?

Yesterday I blogged about Labour’s American campaigning company Blue State Digital. Blue State has been in the news too for not very good reasons.

It seems Blue State Digital uses tracking code to snoop on emails their software sends out. We know from Blue States Digital’s own website that the Labour Party here in New Zealand is one of their clients and uses their campaign software, methodology and techniques so one would presume that embedded in the all that American expertise and software is the tracking code allowing Labour to snoop on the emails they send to you.

Blue State Digital (BSD), which used the latest internet technology to mobilise millions of people behind Obama, has been employed to help create a grassroots network across the UK as part of the campaign to stop the BNP leader, Nick Griffin, becoming the far-right party’s first MEP.

The firm began work last week and has already signed up thousands of supporters and donors. As part of the first stage of its campaign BSD and an anti-fascist magazine, Searchlight, has sent thousands of emails asking each recipients to forward it to five friends and make a small donation.The software means campaigners can then track who opens the emails, where they are sent and what happens when they arrive at the other end – tailoring future emails to groups and individuals

Oh how very interesting. Given that Labour studied very closely the Obama campaign and even tried out some of the techniques with the Len Brown campaign it will be very interesting to know if they are using the same code now, or indeed if Len Brown’s campaign used the code. I understand though that email marketing from Len Brown’s campaign was handled by Mike Hutcheson’s company so maybe they didn’t use the Blue State Digital software, but only “Hutch” could tell us that.

To quote the UK website concerned about Blue State Digital’s techniques:

Political campaigns, wherever they are on the political spectrum, should not be using the same sort of tricks as email spammers and those who try to sneakily hunt down anonymous whistleblower sources and contacts, since this will betray the Sensitive Personal Data of their supporters, to some of their political enemies.

Since the Blue State Digital server infrastructure is based in the USA, with lax Data Protection and large scale snooping on foreigners (and on US citizens) by US Government agencies, who else gets to read the Communications Traffic Data of any particular group of political activists or campaign supporters who have been targeted this way ?

Blue Sky Digital were touting their “grassroots” campaign online expertise and tools, to various campaign groups and pressure groups recently.

We might perhaps support some of the aims of this campaign, but not if it uses sneaky email tracking, which contravenes the fundamental data protection principle of prior, informed consent, and which probably also contravenes the Direct Marketing industry codes of practice and European Union wide laws.

Labour needs to confirm categorically that they aren’t doing the same thing here, but since they closely follow the advice of their American advisors, use their tools and also follow trends with UK Labour it is highly probable they are doing this to you too.

If anyone who is on Labour’s mailing list has concerns about whether Labour is using Blue State Digital’s tracking emails then they can forward them to me for analysis.

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.