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It couldn’t happen here, could it?

housebound 25 November 2010 16

Calling all political hacks out there – does your ACT party of choice keep secret files on people like the ALP in Victoria does? Do they even need to in a town with one degree of separation making software and databases unnecessary?

Some background: The Age reports that the ALP has been keeping secret files on ordinary members of the public – including details of medical conditions, financial issues and the like. The Libs and Greens are staying very, very quiet – suggesting they do it too.

[ED – I’m constantly amazed by the things about my life party members from both Liberal, Labor and Green know, often things I’ve forgotten myself, so it’s handy]


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16 Responses to It couldn’t happen here, could it?
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DermottBanana DermottBanana 5:16 pm 27 Nov 10

Yes the major political parties have databases, as outlined by jimbocool @ 1. Where do they get the information? Mostly from who writes letters to the editor about various topics, and who writes or calls the MP.
Neither major party has the resources to maintain a database with any more data than that – they simply don’t have the manpower. And when I worked for one of them, their updating of their database from the letters to the editor pages of the Canberra Times were about a year behind.

Skidbladnir Skidbladnir 11:10 pm 26 Nov 10

Erg0 said :

You just want to get hold of the database and use it to send out birthday cards to strangers.

Not really, but having a system to send out birthday presents and remind me of anniversaries without trying would be nice.
Turning a list of almost random list of business requirements into a functional application design, implementing that design with a supportive database, producing standard/automated/custom/ad-hoc data reporting, and fixing things when they break is just one of the things that I currently get paid to do (when part of a team).

Assuming they had a well-designed, fully normalised, and appropriately implemented system populated with residential, financial, medical, business, political affiliation, issues relevance, and personal contact information, with both historic and current datasets, all granulated down to the polling booth or individual voter level, using it just to send out stalkergrams and store scraps of data on only a few individuals would be a case study in monumental fuckups.

Either they’re not letting on what data management systems they really have in place and the articles are just blowing smoke, or their current system is under borderline mismanagement and suffering from catastrophic imagination failure.
In any case, I smell a potential job there. 🙂

I-filed I-filed 4:16 pm 26 Nov 10

Deref said :

No. My party doesn’t. Perhaps you’d like to join?

http://www.sexparty.org.au/index.php

Yes you do. You (e.g. Eros Foundation and Robbie Swan’s sex shops) used to boast to news outlets about the size of your mailorder database, and that you were going to use it.

Erg0 Erg0 3:46 pm 26 Nov 10

You just want to get hold of the database and use it to send out birthday cards to strangers.

Skidbladnir Skidbladnir 3:12 pm 26 Nov 10

So they have legislation on their side, capacity for supporting it, and what sounds like a basic system in place, but still manage to get things so horribly wrong on a regular basis?
This needs new design, better analysis, more creative project management, more imagination as to usage applications and better organisational support.

If the local parties want a lesson on how to do it better, I’d consider the job if the money was right…

facet facet 6:59 pm 25 Nov 10

Of course with the new National Broadband Network these “secret files” can be quickly downloaded and shared throughout Australia (and the world) except in Gungahlin and Cooma which are third world bandwidth ghettos.

housebound housebound 2:32 pm 25 Nov 10

Maybe the Sex Party should then have a policy of amending privacy legislation to remove the exemption for political parties.

Deref Deref 1:41 pm 25 Nov 10

No. My party doesn’t. Perhaps you’d like to join?

http://www.sexparty.org.au/index.php

colourful sydney racing identity colourful sydney racing identity 12:33 pm 25 Nov 10

indigoid said :

Johnboy, funny that you should mention the usefulness of people keeping track of you… I heard a similar comment from old Bob Gould (infamous hardcore-lefty owner of Gould’s bookstore up here in Sydney). He has been writing his memoirs and found the extensive file ASIO had on him to be quite useful. If he ever publishes them I suspect they will make fascinating reading

Tom McDonald, former national secretary of the BWIU (now CFMEU) told me the same thing, he found his ASIO file incredibly useful to fill in the gaps in the autobiography of he and his wife, Audrey, An Intimate Union.

p1 p1 12:30 pm 25 Nov 10

I am curious how this kind of database functions with respect to privacy laws. My understanding is that most companies who hold your personal details are required to tell you what they know about you were you to ask.

Is their such a requirement for the political parties?

Erg0 Erg0 11:56 am 25 Nov 10

Given that you fill out the census form yourself, one would hope that you’d know what’s in that particular file.

Chaz Chaz 11:24 am 25 Nov 10

isn’t the sensis also some kind of “Secret file” the gov has on everyone too?

indigoid indigoid 10:05 am 25 Nov 10

Johnboy, funny that you should mention the usefulness of people keeping track of you… I heard a similar comment from old Bob Gould (infamous hardcore-lefty owner of Gould’s bookstore up here in Sydney). He has been writing his memoirs and found the extensive file ASIO had on him to be quite useful. If he ever publishes them I suspect they will make fascinating reading

Erg0 Erg0 9:38 am 25 Nov 10

I love the phrase “secret files”, conjures up all sorts of sinister imagery.

colourful sydney racing identity colourful sydney racing identity 9:33 am 25 Nov 10

I could do with the software they use to keep track of the views of Rioters, it would make it really easy to jump on people for inconsistancy…

jimbocool jimbocool 9:29 am 25 Nov 10

As the Pollbludger pointed out a couple of days ago, this is old, old news. http://blogs.crikey.com.au/pollbludger/2010/11/23/yesterdays-news-today/
The short answer, Housebound, is that both the ALP and Liberals in the ACT run their electoral databases – ElecTrac for the ALP and Feedback for the Libs. Both are highly sophistocated – and given the small size of the ACT electorate – highly detailed.
I don’t believe that the Greens have anything like it.

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