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Minnesota GOP's CD Raises Privacy Concerns 413

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the everyone-has-an-angle dept.
doginthewoods writes to tell us the ThinkProgress blog is reporting that the Minnesota Republican Party has been distributing a new CD about a recent proposed amendment. The CD poses questions about some of the hot-button issues like abortion, gun control, and illegal immigration. The problem with this CD, however, is that it "phones home" to the Minnesota GOP, without making it clear that your name is attached. So, if you take a look at the CD and take time to answer the questions, beware. Once you are finished they will know not only who you are, but where you stand on the issues at hand.
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Minnesota GOP's CD Raises Privacy Concerns

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @08:41PM (#14823214)
    If you submit a form with your name on it... it submits your form with your name on it?!! The shock! The horror!

    Anyway, the real story, if you actually read, is that the information you submit is supposedly available on a publicly accessible website.
    • by Kythe (4779)
      Evidently, there's no notice that the information is submitted or sent beyond your computer, AND the information is publicly available. So, there's more to the story than an insecure web site.

      Sounds like the Minnesota GOP thought the Sony DRM fiasco was pretty nifty.
      • So your comparing sething that you put your name, and information into to a program that roots the desktop?
        • In that both take actions most people don't expect to be taken without warning you, and both compromise privacy -- yes. Of course, this isn't a rootkit. At least, not as the story described it.
      • Evidently, there's no notice that the information is submitted or sent beyond your computer

        Maybe I'm just beeing dense but if you're filling out a form wouldn't you pretty much expect that it'll be sent .... somewhere? I mean, it's not supposed to be some sort of practice for the REAL form or something right? I can see people being unhappy with the results showing up on a public web site but I can't imagine being surprised that the information was being "sent beyond your computer".
        • Re:ummm...no (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Romancer (19668) <romancer@deaths d o o r .com> on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @10:37PM (#14823807) Journal
          Here's the difference.

          If I install a program on my computer it can ask for my name company name etc. It can then ask if I want to register this program and send this information outside the computer.

          The difference would be that if the program asked for my information without stating that it would automatically be sent out it would be considered misrepresentation.

          It is an understood assumption by consumers (one which I personally believe is valid as well as the standard) that software must inform you explicitly that any data will be sent outside the software/computer it is on.

          One would not assume that the forms in software such as ACT, MS Word, MS Excel, or other programs that ask for your information would be sent out without at least telling you so before the process.

          Even the software companies that are on the edge of customer acceptance in this area have a policy that you can read and find exactly what information is being sent back to the company. Quickbooks is a prime example. They monitor your usage and use pop-ups and in-program ads to try and sell you other products that they think you might use. This is specific data collected with the association to your registration. Which by the way is mandatory. But disclosed.
          • Re:ummm...no (Score:3, Interesting)

            by jadavis (473492)
            If you're filling out your info in order to use software, you might expect it to not be sent out. That's almost like personalizing the software, and possibly registering it at the end. Notice that MS Word does not ask you any political questions, because that would have nothing to do with using the software (at least, not yet).

            However, if you're just filling out a form to fill out a form, it's pretty unreasonable to expect that the information stay on your computer.

            Before entering personal data anywhere you
  • Hoax? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by conner_bw (120497) on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @08:42PM (#14823220) Homepage Journal
    Does anyone have a copy of this CD?

    Clicking through to a bunch of "screen shots" and quotes such as "That information is on a public Web site. I'm not going to tell you what site we found it on, just to let you know that the data is there." doesn't sound very credible to me.

    Someone prove me wrong?

    • If it is spyware, it would be cool if a guy could get it widely distributed as an iso so everyone could test how strong the servers are in Minnesota and fill their tables up with worthless data... that would teach 'em, you betcha!
  • Your tax forms (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Kohath (38547) on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @08:46PM (#14823254)
    You people who pretend to care about privacy should look at your tax forms some time. Do you support a repeal of the income tax for privacy reasons?

    (No. Without income taxes, you wouldn't get to spend money you didn't earn.)
    • I support a repeal of the income tax for any reason, what-so-ever.

      --
      Rossz
    • (No. Without income taxes, you wouldn't get to spend money you didn't earn.)

      As if I get to spend any of that money I didn't earn anyway, it's all been disappearing into the middle east.

      Love your illogic though. Clearly only socialists complain about privacy, the conservatives are too busy studying for their CD quizzes so they can keep their overlords happy.
      • Haha. Do not worry about how they spend the money that they take from you, worry about how they spend the money that they take from you that you don't even have yet. They're spending x10 what they collect in revenue, and whose pocket do you think that comes out of when it's time to pay the bar tab?
      • Re:Your tax forms (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Kohath (38547)
        Clearly only socialists complain about privacy

        They don't care about privacy. They care about the complaining. And they want to think of themselves as victims. For that "I'm a victim, empower me and give me goodies" benefit. Privacy is a pretense.

        Seriously though, Chuck Schumer's staff illegally obtained a credit report on Michael Steele [time.com]. Where were Slashdot's pretend privacy advocates then? No crocodile tears for Mr. Steele?
        • Re:Your tax forms (Score:4, Insightful)

          by doublem (118724) on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @10:14PM (#14823693) Homepage Journal
          They don't care about privacy. They care about the complaining. And they want to think of themselves as victims. For that "I'm a victim, empower me and give me goodies" benefit. Privacy is a pretense.

          You nit wit. You aren't even arguing against a current stereotype. Didn't you get the memo? The "Liberals are victims" straw man went out of style in late 2001. The current trend is to justify ignoring Liberals by calling them "Anti-American" or "Traitors."

          You're hanging on to the 1980's and 1990's straw man, NOT the current one, and you're coming off an uninformed and out of date.

          Terrorism is the new Communism, and you're suppose dot be attacking Liberals from that angle.

          Remember, now that it's Republicans in power, Big Government (The Fed is larger now then it has been at any point in history) is a GOOD thing, because it's monitoring you to "Protect your freedom."

          Get with the program and get in line. Harping on the stock straw man form the last CENTURY makes the GOP look out of step and disorganized.
          • by Kohath (38547) on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @11:49PM (#14824101)
            The current trend is to justify ignoring Liberals by calling them "Anti-American" or "Traitors."

            Nope. That's just the pretend stuff for the wackos. Everyone knows the left isn't traitorous in general. They just put winning elections ahead of national security. It's ok, national security is still in your top 10 priorities. Maybe 8th.

            The current trend is to say you're not FOR anything and you have no ideas. And it'll work too, unless there's a bunch of good counter-examples. (Try saying you want to raise taxes again. It's the truth, and it worked so good the last time.)

            I think the left's priorities go like this:

            1. I hate Bush
            2. Money
            3. Win elections
            4. I hate corporations
            5. I hate religious people
            6. I hate the rich
            7. Make the earth feel our love
            8. Lookout for terrorists
            9. I hate SUV drivers
            10. I hate the military
            11. I hate smokers, fast food restuarants, cell phone talkers, wal-mart, oil companies, meat eaters, fur wearers, snowmobilers, farmers, managers, electricity generation, homeschoolers, zoos, etc., etc., etc.
            .
            .
            999. Are you going to eat that? (Yes? I hate you.)
            1000. Privacy.
            1001. I hate light pollution from the reflections off of orbiting satellites.

            and so on.
    • The IRS is limited in what it can reveal about your tax information. See here [irs.gov] for more information. The republican party is under no such restrictions.
    • You people who pretend to care about privacy should look at your tax forms some time. Do you support a repeal of the income tax for privacy reasons?

      Maybe I'm just a little dense, but I don't see what your point is.

      Maybe you're complaining about using your Social Security number to fill out your IRS forms? If that's the case, you don't have to. The IRS invented this thing called the "Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)"

      Last time I checked, there were... laws dictating exactly what can and cannot

      • Re:Your tax forms (Score:3, Interesting)

        by cubicledrone (681598)
        and then move to a Value Added Tax system.

        poor people that it'd be good for them.

        Well, let's see how good the current tax system is for poor people:

        1. Rent = zero deductions
        2. Savings = all interest taxed
        3. Medical expenses = not deductible unless high minimum reached
        4. Car repairs = not deductible
        5. Wages = taxed before they are received
        6. Consumer interest = not deductible, even though it is ten times higher than when it WAS deductible
        7. Gas and Utilities = taxed two and three times

        Basically, poor people
        • Re:Your tax forms (Score:3, Interesting)

          by AuMatar (183847)
          One major problem here- poor people don't make enough money to save. They're lucky to break even over the year. A VAT tax would be, at BEST, no change. In the meantime, it would lower taxes for the rich who save the vast majority of their money. This would mean it lowers taxes as a percent of income on the rich, and raises it on the poor.

          Furthermore, the idea that a VAT tax would effect savings rate is ludicrous even at face value. Why is the fact that savings are taxed effect savings rate? Its taxed
    • by NoData (9132)
      Hmmm...Let's take a look.

      Form 1040
      ---snip----

      34 Student loan interest deduction (see page 33)

      35 Tuition and fees deduction (see page 34)

      36 Add lines 34 and 35 here

      37a Oh, BTW, do think gays should marry?
      b Seriously?

      38 Domestic production acitivities deduction. Attach Form 8903-35

      39 Subtract the number of unborn children murdered this year from line 34

      40 Total value of stock or other securities sold this year

      41a Interest earned from personal savings
      b Interest taken in
    • Yeah, this is exactly the same. FUCK OFF TROLL.
    • Does the IRS send your tax returns to the Minnesota Republican Party for partisan uses?

      If they do, then your argument (right or wrong) at least makes sense.
    • Well, it's refreshing to see someone finally admit what we all know: The Republican Party is intent on becoming synonymous with the federal government. (Minnesota GOP == IRS) Someday soon, it'll be just like in glorious Stalinist Russia: The government will exist to serve the Party.

      Sometimes I feel like I've fallen off an asymptote and come back from the other side of infinity...
    • What crack are you smoking?

      You seem to have forgotten the fact that the current administration has submitted the LARGEST budget in history, and this is with a Republican controlled congress.

      where are you getting this claim of "Spending money you didn't earn"? Income taxes take money I already earned, and if there were no taxes, I would have MORE of the money I DID earn!

      Oh, wait, I'll bet you're one of those libertarians who thinks we should privatize everything. You might want to do some research into wha
    • Re:Your tax forms (Score:2, Insightful)

      by ClamIAm (926466)
      Do you support a repeal of the income tax for privacy reasons?

      Sounds good to me.

  • by plimsoll (247070) <5dj82jy7c001 AT sneakemail DOT com> on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @08:47PM (#14823258) Homepage
    I for one am shocked -SHOCKED- to see such behavior from a party that espouses both "small government" and keeping it's nose out of our business. This is completely out of character with the current administration, and I'm sure will be responsibly acknowledged and dealt with. Expect a public mea culpa from the president shortly.
  • by AxsDeny (152142) on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @08:48PM (#14823263) Homepage Journal

    From part of his story at Minnesota Public Radio [publicradio.org].

    BEGIN QUOTE:

    I wrote:

    I really enjoyed the production work on the CD for the marriage amendment. It was first-rate stuff and as a Flash novice, made me a little bit envious. The copy that Tom Scheck gave me required an access code. Do all the CDs being mailed out come with an access code? If so, I'm curious as to why that is and wondering if the "votes" I'm asked to take during the presentation are reported back to the MN GOP? And, if so, are they matched to the access code and do you keep a record of what code is mailed to what person?

    Mark was kind enough to respond promptly:

    Thank you for the kind words regarding the high tech merits of the cd. Like any political survey done by the Party, it is our hope the cd will help us recruit more volunteers, provide valuable voter ID information and hopefully allow us to raise money so we can continue to send the cd out to more Minnesotans. On Friday, the cd will be released to the public. The cd's packaging will make clear that the cd is interactive in nature.

    A follow-up e-mail from me:

    So by interactive in nature, do you mean the results are being reported back to the GOP and, if so, are they identified by the access code?

    And a response:

    Yes- very similar process to if you got a free AOL cd at the grocery store.

  • by NoData (9132)
    Oh come on, it's not like the Republicans weren't reading your email and listening to you phone calls anyway. You just never got around to the juicy stuff. So they finally just had to come right out and ask. You see what you made them do? Gawd! You're so whiny! And you talk to your mom waaay too much, dude. Seriously. They told me. And yeah, it's probably infected, you should have it looked at.
  • by penguin-collective (932038) on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @09:02PM (#14823336)
    Once you vote on the GOP-supported electronic voting machines, they will probably know how you would have voted if your vote had actually been counted.
  • the funny thing is that this could easily turn against them. what if their enemies took the CD, and had many people answer the questions contrary to what the GOP would want to publish?

    they would in effect be promoting the opinions they seek to disregard.
    • I'm guessing they would spin the results to show what they wanted and not publish the rest if that happened. Politicians are usually good at the whole spin thing.
  • It also places an absentee vote for all Republican cannidates in the next election. The fact the disk was authored by Diebold should have been a clue. It did make me suspicous that it asked for the names of any friends or relatives that died in the last year. Look on the brightside we may finally have 110% voter turnout.
  • if you receieve an un-solicited CD thru the mail, you stick it in your CD drive and see what happens?

    You guys crack me up :)
  • you folks don't get it.

    the GOP has spent a lot of time and effort enforcing the idea that there is no right to privacy guaranteed in the Constitution.

    from Scalia's speeches to select groups, to recent SCOTUS decisions, they are slowly making it clear the the individual has no constitutional right to privacy.

    so it stands to reason that business and political interest can garner whatever information they deem necessary without your permission.

    this is not a trollish post..it's the truth. please reference these
    • Your comments show a rather large lack of understanding of the govermental system. There are three branches - judical, executive, and legislative. Judical is tasked with interpreting the laws. Executive is tasked with enforcing the laws. Legislative is tasked with writing the laws.

      JUDGES DO NOT GET TO WRITE LAWS! Until the legislative branch (i.e. Congress) gets off it's big fat lazy corrupt a$$ and passes some laws to protect us, don't expect judges to be able to do much about it.

      Unfortunately, the ju
      • i cannot argue with that.

        what you say it's pretty much 100% accurate. what i was trying to do was make a very quick, down-and-dirty, argument to show that i wasn't being a troll and provide some evidence to back that up.

        it's true that congress cares less about our ability to keep our information private than i do about who wins american karaoke...err...idol.
  • Once you are finished they will know not only who you are, but where you stand on the issues at hand.

    OH NO! I *definitely* don't want a politician to know what I think! How could he possibly act purely within his own interests if we bombard him with our own opinions?
  • by justin_w_hall (188568) on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @09:45PM (#14823563) Homepage
    (disclaimer: insane leftist psycho)

    Apparently us liberals are now terrified of anyone knowing our opinions. Yeah, it's bad that there are no privacy concerns in the terms of use, and I'm not surprised that Republicans are trying to hide their underhanded methods of stealing information.

    But crap, they aren't getting my social, or the combination to my luggage (12345). Don't you WANT the government to know how you feel on the issues? Isn't that the point of a democratic society? And your boss? Your church? Why be so afraid to think what you think?

    I don't know, I guess I can see some people wanting that information private. That can't be the majority view, though...
  • "You have zero privacy anyway, ... Get over it." [wired.com]

    Of course, he was of a different opinion when his Social Security Number became pubic domain [theregister.co.uk].

  • there would be "obvious" tag on this.

Real Users find the one combination of bizarre input values that shuts down the system for days.

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