Technology

Most 2016 campaign websites receive failing privacy grades

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All but a handful of presidential campaign websites received failing privacy grades because of the common practice of sharing voter data with like-minded organizations, according to a review by a security and privacy group.

The Online Trust Alliance, a nonprofit backed by businesses in the tech industry, found that 17 of the 23 candidate websites it evaluated received failing grades, almost solely because of their privacy policies. 

{mosads}“Some websites failed due to nonexistent or inadequate privacy policy disclosures. Others flunked because they reserve the right to liberally share or sell their donors and site visitors’ personally identifiable information … with unaffiliated third parties that the candidates deem as like-minded organizations,” the group said in a statement Friday. 

That information includes addresses, phone numbers, employer information “and even passport numbers,” according to the group. 

The sharing or selling of voter information is not a new phenomenon. Many campaigns and outside groups have bought and shared email lists and voter information for years. But the group said candidates should realize that “voters may not want their information shared” and should not make that the default.   

The group noted, however, that most of the websites received passing grades when it came to security, with 70 percent using encrypted websites. The group said this is not unsurprising, since it has become the norm with new websites.  

Those that did receive a passing grade were GOP candidates Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Rick Santorum and Scott Walker and Democratic candidates Martin O’Malley and Lincoln Chafee.

For example, the privacy policy of O’Malley’s website vows to “never provide” your email address or personal information to any group except his leadership PAC. Bush’s policy says it can share information in limited circumstances for marketing or in the event of the sale of all of his campaign’s assets. 

On the other hand, nearly all the candidates with failing grades reserved the right to share information with groups with “similar political views,” which is taken from the privacy policy of Hillary Clinton’s (D) website.

Similarly, Rand Paul (R) said his campaign’s general policy is to not to share personal information that it collects. But there are broad exceptions, including the sharing of information with groups “we believe have similar viewpoints.”

Some, such as Democratic candidate Jim Webb and Republican candidates John Kasich, Mike Huckabee, Lindsey Graham and Jim Gilmore, do not have privacy policies on their website. 

Tags 2016 election Encryption Hillary Clinton Lindsey Graham presidential candidates Privacy Rand Paul Website
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