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Letters to the EditorReader complains about use of e-mail addresses in on-line petition to Stop Enerdu

Reader complains about use of e-mail addresses in on-line petition to Stop Enerdu

Pen imageEditor’s note

The letter below raises an issue about the use of e-mail addresses that were provided by signers of  the Stop Enerdu Petition. Brent Eades co-editor of the Millstone originated that petition and the Millstone linked to it for the purpose of facilitating access to it. E-mail addresses were requested on the site for the purpose of verifying that the signer was a real person. We acknowledge that this is personal information. The petition was designed to aid in the lobbying effort to stop this project and thus was aimed at politicians who have the power to lobby, at the municipal level, and decide, at the provincial level, on the fate of the project. Brent Eades provided the list of signatories and their e-mail addresses to Shaun McLaughlin upon Shaun McLaughlin’s request some time ago in his capacity as Mississippi Mills Councillor, for the purpose of that lobbying effort and to permit the updating of signers on the progress of the lobbying effort and the fate of the Enerdu project. We thought that the people who signed that petition would want to know about the progress of the effort and for the same reason that Brent collected the e-mail addresses, they were revealed to Mr. McLaughllin.

The Millstone is staffed entirely by volunteers and is funded by a combination of volunteers and donations from the public. It does not accept paid advertising and is operated as a public service. Editorially, we have expressed opposition to the Enerdu Project as we feel it is detrimental to the future of Almonte, but we were scrupulously neutral in the election campaign, publishing information on all candidates, providing each candidate an opportunity and publishing all positions, including both for and against the Enerdu Project.

Neither the Millstone nor Brent Eades personally, sells personal information to third parties or discloses it for a purpose not consistent with the reason for its collection. We did feel that in these circumstances, the proposed use of the e-mail addresses was consistent with the reason for collecting them and therefore disclosed them to a municipal councillor. In our view this is in line with privacy legislation which stipulates that use or disclosure should be consistent with the purpose for which the personal information is collected. We have not made any other use or disclosure of the e-mail addresses presented in the petition nor shall we. That said, we can always improve our practices and for any future petitions or surveys, we shall state at the outset just what use will be made of any personal information.

Edith Cody-Rice, co-editor
Dear Editor:

I have been following the news and comments on this web site for some time now with regard to the Enerdu topic, the different directions it has taken, the comments and opinions and of course the positions taken by the candidates of the upcoming election. The publisher and the editors that run this site have done a lot of work to make sure the word is out there that there are people who disagree with the Enerdu project. I do believe that if you are one of the people behind the scenes providing this “Community Newspaper for Mississippi Mills” that you should be using responsible decision making processes that are unbiased especially when it comes to a community election and pertaining to the candidates that are running in it.

So it was very disturbing to learn that Mr. McLaughlin and his team have gained access to a list of contact information of all the people who signed the Enerdu petition in order to send out unsolicited emails to those on that list, suggesting that Mr. McLaughlin was the only mayoral candidate who should receive our vote. At the All Candidate’s night in Clayton I asked Mr. McLaughlin how he and his team were able to contact me by email when my email address is private. His response was that I had signed the Enerdu petition and that makes my email public so he and his team can then send me an unsolicited email. Equally disturbing is to know that the petition at http://almonte.com/wordpress/petition/ is run by Mr. Brent Eades, one of the editors of Millstone news.

From what I can see on the petition page, there is no disclaimer indicating that that my contact information will be sold, or given away to third parties for any purpose, nor that once I enter my data that it is deemed public domain.

Mr. Eades, did you sell or give away the contact information of more than 4000 people that electronically signed the Enerdu petition to Mr. McLaughlin and his team and if you did, will you be distributing this data to any others in the future? For what purpose are you holding the contact information from all these people? Was consent provided by any of these people to use their contact information for other purposes?

Mr. McLaughlin, as you stated in Clayton, you apparently have access to a list of all the people in this community who have voiced their opinion against the Enerdu project. What will you do with this list when the election is over? What will your campaign workers do with the copies that they have? I certainly object to my email being in the possession of random residents of Mississippi Mills that I don’t know. If you do become Mayor of Mississippi Mills, will this list play any role in the future should people approach you as a Mayor, who are not on your list?

Did you ensure that the message contained in your unsolicited emails you sent to potential voters from the Enerdu petition list abides by the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) pertaining to candidates? Was the primary purpose of your email to solicit a contribution as defined in subsection 2(1) of the Canada Elections Act in order to be exempt from CASL? It certainly doesn’t appear so. The CASL also requires that for sending a CEM to an electronic address you need to have either written or oral consent. The onus is on the person sending the message to prove they have obtained consent to send the message.
Besides acting unethically, perhaps you may have violated the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation and Canada Elections Act by your actions.

And you did not answer the second question that I asked you in Clayton, and that was: If you are elected mayor how can the residents of this municipality be assured that our private information at the municipal level is going to remain private? Or perhaps you have answered that question!

Rose Mary Sarsfield
Almonte, Ont. K0A1A0
 
 
 

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