Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/washington/news.aspx?id=100395
Story Retrieval Date: 5/18/2013 7:54:06 PM CST
Just before the debate Tuesday, David Plouffe, the campaign manager for Obama for America contacted me by e-mail.
It only makes sense. I am a journalist in their target demographic. They think I might be able to reach out and make young voters excited about the campaign.
There is only one problem.
The e-mail was a mass mailing to registered users of BarackObama.com and asks for donations at the bottom.
I am not a registered user of BarackObama.com.
How did they get my personal information? I filed a media request on the campaign Web site Monday in order to receive clarification on one of Sen. Obama’s positions for a story I was writing in Washington.
Ironically, the story was about data privacy, the potential abuses of personal data by the government, and the candidates’ plans for change.
I double-checked the form that I had completed. It was clearly labeled as a media request. It also did not have any box where I could have requested that the campaign add me to a mailing list for donation e-mails.
Technically, I did request a “service,” and the e-mail was timely. But I am not sure I fall under the “eligible individuals” to receive this type of communication, especially because there is a donation button at the bottom.
Maybe there is more information elsewhere in the policy, I thought.
“As noted above, we maintain e-mail lists to keep interested, eligible individuals informed about important topics, and individuals must affirmatively request to join them,” the policy says.
I didn’t request to join any e-mail list. I was merely looking for a phone call. And there is still no explanation of “eligible individuals.”
The whole issue brought to mind what Philip Friedman, a consumer protection lawyer, said Monday at a lecture on data privacy.
“It is really not a fair choice to say I have to read a six-page web document that I frankly don’t understand anyway because I want to root around a particular Web site,” he said.
The Obama camp has said it would like to change the way business is done in Washington, including reforming the way the government collects and uses personal data.
Apparently, the more things change, the more they stay the same.