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Secondary Activism: Vote Surveillance Reform Up on Change.org

Jon Pincus of Get FISA Right points me to a competition of ideas at Change.org. People are invited to submit their ideas for presidential priorities in the new administration, and/or to vote up or down the ideas others have submitted:

Submit your ideas for how to change America, discuss with others, and vote for your favorites. The “Top 10 Ideas for America” will be presented to the Obama Administration on Inauguration Day. We will then build a national campaign to advance each idea in Congress…

The idea that Jon Pincus has submitted, “Get FISA Right, Repeal the Patriot Act, and Restore our Civil Liberties,” is currently in sixth place. If it can stay in the top 10 until December 31, then it will be “presented to the Obama Administration on Inauguration Day.”

Sounds pretty nifty, huh? I mean, Change.org is the new presidential transition website for Barack Obama, isn’t it? Boy, it sure looks like the presidential transition website for Barack Obama, right down to the Barack Obama quote and the weird glowy white text on the blue submit button:

Change.org banner, impersonating Change.gov

But no, Obama’s transition website is change.gov. The change.org website is a completely separate entity run by a consortium of nonprofits representing a variety of interests but holding one feature in common: they depend on heavy fundraising to keep their activities going. Change.org is very interested in having you join up with an account, added to which is information about your e-mail address and mailing address and phone number. Most of the “actions” that you are encouraged to engage in on Change.org aren’t direct actions, like calling Congress or marching in the street or setting up a picket line. They’re secondary actions in which you support an organization (one of the organizations fronting the website) that will have its lobbyists do the work for you.

There’s an element of the smarmy and slightly deceptive about Change.org, I have to say that. But in its privacy page, Change.org claims to be walking a fair path about all this:

Your personal information is just that – yours. We will never give your personal information to any nonprofit without your explicit consent. If you would like to receive direct communication from the nonprofits you support, you may choose to have us pass them your name, email and/or home address after making a donation. You can also opt in to sharing your email address with nonprofits while participating in actions, or directly sign up to receive their e-newsletter.

So it is with a mild caveat of caution that I encourage you to engage in the secondary activism at Change.org. The list of nonprofits engaged with Change.org is pretty long, as you can see by clicking through to that ideas page. And if these nonprofits really will abide by the Top Ten list generated through Change.org, then it makes some sense for Americans who care about the repeal of FISA and a return to constitutional government to vote for the FISA, Patriot Act, Constitution idea.

So go ahead and participate in this secondary activism by endorsing the idea at Change.org… but by all means don’t do just that. Watch to make sure that Change.org abides by its privacy policy by refusing to rent out your information, and more importantly watch to make sure that the nonprofits participating under the umbrella follow through on their promise and actually use their resources to push for the agenda approved by website members at Change.gov after the first and second rounds of voting are completed.

1 comment to Secondary Activism: Vote Surveillance Reform Up on Change.org

  • Please publish or at least pass forward the following article that appeared Saturday on http://www.opednews.com. It highlites the real reason none of our best efforts seem to work – vote fraud due to vote secrecy/thanks

    “detoV I ”

    A 110 Word Short Story On “Vote Secrecy” – The Enabling Characteristic of Vote Fraud.

    by mac Sperry


    He whispered wildly, “Vote secrecy is just a shell game. If the shells were made of clear glass the game wouldn’t work. ‘Til 1875 we openly voted by voice. Fraud was impossible. Then the newspapers fell silent as the “sanctity” of the secret vote was imposed. You must tell them; secrecy doesn’t eliminate vote fraud, it enables it!” The door burst open. “After him” the Chief Guardian barks. “Back to sleep good citizen” he soothes as he massages my chest-mounted placator. I awake terrified. Turning to the mirror, my eyes are drawn to my placator. Immediately concern fades to ambivalence at the sight of its mirrored inscription: “detoV I”.

    © 2007 M J Sperry

    All rights are relinquished to this work as long as it is published in its entirety including this disclaimer

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