The last month has been disheartening for those of us at Irregular Times, as we have witnessed the infiltration of unauthorized tracker apps like SkimLinks and KissMetrics into the architecture independent web sites like our own. We hold to a philosophy of respect for our readers, which means that we don’t use Irregular Times as a tool for data mining personal details about other people’s lives.
Such intrusion has become commonplace on the Internet, however, and that shift of online power away from readers and small publishers in favor of unethical data smashers is one of the great unaddressed political issues of our times. Given that we’re coming closer to the official start of the 2016 presidential campaign season, now is a great time to begin to draw attention to the struggle to retain reasonable standards of data privacy.
In order to promote consideration of this issue, we are beginning work on a new project, the 2016 Presidential Campaign Surveillance Report. This report, which we will update several times during the primary campaign and general election, will summarize what actions the different declared and likely presidential candidates are taking to incorporate surveillance software into their own political web sites.
Looking at the degree to which politicians use their campaign cash to set up surveillance systems that target voters is one way to judge the ethical character of the 2016 candidates. So far, we have gathered information on Marco Rubio, Hillary Clinton, Paul Ryan, Rick Santorum, Scott Walker, Marsha Blackburn, Scott Brown, and Jan Brewer.
One observation that I can’t help but making so far is that Rick Santorum has chosen to use an online surveillance company called New Relic for both his campaign web site and his political action committee’s web site. How very apt.
More to come…