National harvested email addresses via petitions

The National Party has apologised for using ‘issue’ petitions to harvest email addresses, then putting the respondents in their database and soliciting for donations.

This is not the first time a party has used petitions to build a contact database. Both Labour and Greens often used petitions and campaigns to gather contact information. They generally committed to just contacting people on the issue they had signed up for – I don’t know whether it went any further than that, or how long the contact data was retained.

This time it is National exposed for using bogus campaigns (petitions are usually of little ort no influence) to harvest contact data.

RNZ:  National apologises for mass database sign-up

The National Party has been forced to apologise to potentially thousands of people after accidentally signing them up to the party database.

Accidentally? Yeah, right.

People who signed up to join two petitions – against scrapping flights to Kāpiti Airport and one to save the Lumsden Maternity Centre in Southland – started also receiving emails from National asking for money to fight the government.

National would not say how many people were added to their database, but thousands signed signed the two petitions started by National MPs.

Neither petition stated that an email address would be added to the party’s mailing list.

Ms Dacombe is now hesitant to sign any more National sponsored petitions in the future.

“Not impressed. I signed the petition to support a local project, not for my email address to be used for another political purpose,” one person wrote.

Another woman said she “was seriously disgusted, & felt seriously insulted, when I received the begging letter from Simon Bridges”.

Another person said the petition was “just a way to collect data to bombard your inbox with National Party propaganda”.

This may be a big backfire for National – people generally don’t like being sucked in and then targeted by politicians.

I don’t think National’s excuses are credible. They tried an old trick and got found out. They deserve the bad publicity for their dishonesty.

Online petitions organised by political parties should be viewed with suspicion.

Two years ago, Labour had to defend its use of a “baby number” widget which offered people the chance to find out what number baby they are, in exchange for giving the party their email address.

That’s just one other example.

And it’s not just petitions obviously linked to an organisation – it is simple and I think probably common for proxy people or groups to be used to run petitions and online campaigns.

Dishonest political parties should be despised and avoided, but it’s hard to know who is the least dishonest when it comes to data gathering and campaigning.

35 Comments

  1. Bridges is being interviewed about this on RNZ. He is claiming it was a cock up.

    Suzie doesn’t understand. Neither do I. How can hundreds of emails be accidentally added to a membership database?

    • Gezza

       /  March 19, 2018

      Bridges is being interviewed about this on RNZ. He is claiming it was a cock up.
      I’ll say. Was up those who signed the petitions.

    • Gezza

       /  March 19, 2018

      He didn’t do too badly, all things considered. Managed to get a few hits in on Jacinda & Winston over Russia & FTA, & made me grin telling us he intends to use the free Greens Questions in ‘the spirit in which they were given’.
      https://www.radionz.co.nz/audio/player?audio_id=2018636660

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  March 19, 2018

        Most people are not liars and most of us would be insulted if we were called a liar. But many people seem to feel free to accuse others of lying when there is no evidence of this. We all make mistakes on computers and send things to the wrong place at some time.

  2. Blazer

     /  March 19, 2018

    I’m sure the National Party H.Q must have a large framed portrait of…Richard Nixon.

    • Corky

       /  March 19, 2018

      Dick got the boot in favour of Trumpy. National like winners. They like to surround themselves with power. The type of power information technology brings.

      Haven’t you got yoga classes to attend?

      • Blazer

         /  March 19, 2018

        I do virtual yoga…I see you do too….tying yourself in knots…on blog sites.

        • Corky

           /  March 19, 2018

          That’s most unkind but true. A finer mental workout while dealing with trolls is yet to be devised. Especially when you allow yourself to be behind the 8 ball from the start.

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  March 19, 2018

            If you really think that Nixon got the boot in favour of Trump, there’s no more to be said, is there ?

  3. I just use UNSUBSCRIBE.

  4. NOEL

     /  March 19, 2018

    I’m sick of then using the electrol roll. Tried to get on the hidden one but was denied claiming it wasnt a recognised reason.
    I know the got it from the roll because my son was overseas and used my address.
    To add insult they addressed the single mailout to both of us.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  March 19, 2018

      The electoral roll is always used for such things. It’s like the phone book, and is not classified.

      If I have unsolicited mail, I just write ‘No longer at this address ‘ and post it back. Or throw it into the recycling bin.

      • Gezza

         /  March 19, 2018

        I just write ‘No longer at this address’.
        Kitty! Telling lies!

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  March 19, 2018

          It’s sometimes the only way to get rid of a company that won’t take the hint !

          I have never regretted having No Circulars, Please’ on the fence. It also has various synonyms for circulars, as the first one didn’t stop them all. I painted it myself, as I couldn’t see a cheap one that didn’t say No Junk Mail, which seems rude.

          I am taking a break from the tedious occupation of deleting photos from the camera. Never again will I leave this so long. Ha ha.

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  March 19, 2018

          It’s like people being told by the maid or butler that someone was ‘not at home’ when they were in the house. It meant that they were not at home to visitors, so wasn’t a lie.

          Writing that really means ‘no longer at this address for your letters’. They must know that it is a polite way of saying bugger off.

          • Gezza

             /  March 19, 2018

            Why not just try writing “sod off” on the next one?
            They’d definitely know that’s a polite way of saying bugger off. 😀

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  March 19, 2018

              Just because you’d do that…..:D

      • Hollyfield

         /  March 19, 2018

        At the last place I lived I used to get regular letters from a well known charity addressed to the lady who had lived there two people before me. She had passed away and her house sold. I kept returning the letters writing “deceased” on the envelopes, but they still kept coming. I often wondered how much money they wasted sending begging letters to people who were never again going to give them a donation, and I decided that I would not support that charity on principle, if that’s how they spend their donations.

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  March 19, 2018

          It’s really annoying when the previous occupants of the house don’t bother to have their mail redirected. This happened in the house I am in now, and some quite important things like xrays still arrived.

          The PDTs seem not to be in favour of recycling :-/

  5. Alan Wilkinson

     /  March 19, 2018

    Is this news? Everyone does it.

    • Blazer

       /  March 19, 2018

      Scientific logic. ..at work..again.

    • Gezza

       /  March 19, 2018

      No – pretty sure some petitions I’ve signed online had a tick box for confirming if you wanted to get information, & for others all I’ve got is a thank you. If they’re going to send you unsolicited begging emails or party guff when you sign a petition they should tell you before you submit your signature.

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  March 19, 2018

        Harvesting email addresses and contacts for political and business purposes is as old as the hills. Social engineering vs privacy legislation will be an ever-lasting battle between the conflicting needs.

    • High Flying Duck

       /  March 19, 2018

      No they don’t Al.
      Opt out surveys where you are automatically giving permission for your details to be used for other purposes unless you specifically tick to say otherwise were banned a while ago.
      This is worse than that and they should be pilloried for it – very underhanded and unethical.

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  March 19, 2018

        What is the wording of that legislation?

  6. Andrew

     /  March 19, 2018

    Labour did the same thing. I signed a petition from Labour before the last election just to see what would happen. What happened was i got about 5 emails a week asking for money.

    • Gezza

       /  March 19, 2018

      1. What was the petition?
      2. Did you give them any money?
      3.Are you still getting the emails?

      • Gezza

         /  March 19, 2018

        4. Is your last name LIttle?

        • Andrew

           /  March 19, 2018

          Re: #4 …. 🙂

          1: Fund GeoNet to provide a 24/7 earthquake, tsunami and volcano monitoring service
          2: no
          3: yes, but to my spam folder.

  7. Zedd

     /  March 19, 2018

    desperate strokes.. for.. desperate folks.. ie the ‘still in denial mob’ 😀