Top News

EDITORIAL: "Hi, it's Sarah"


A slew of Nova Scotians are being targeted by the Conservative party’s pre-election texting campaign. - Herald
- The Chronicle Herald

Did your cellphone offer up a text from “Sarah” yet?

Stayed tuned: one may still turn up.

But just in case you don’t actually get one, here’s what it says: “Hi, it’s Sarah from the Conservative Party. Can the Conservative Party count on your support in the next federal election? Reply: Yes No.”

The texts claim to be coming from Ottawa (well, Kanata-Stittsville) numbers: 613-963-1427. 613-963-0747. 613-845-0517. 613-845-0214. 613-963-9645. That may be true. (Boy, that Sarah sure has a lot of phones!)

What is certainly true is that the texts are a technological step that the federal Conservatives have said they were going to use to reach voters

But before you respond, be aware that, in this age of concerns about technology and privacy, whatever you say to “Sarah” is likely to be stored and used.

First and foremost, if you respond, “Sarah” will know, Conservative supporter or not, that she’s reached a live and active cellphone number. If you text back “Yes,” you will most likely be added to a list that will send you one type of future texts. Maybe you’ll later be asked about whether you want to receive Conservative mailouts and, if so, for your address. Maybe — almost certainly — you’ll be added to the federal Tory database. You might even be asked if you want to donate to help fund the Tory campaign.

Answer “No,” and you’ve provided a different type of information; once again, that your number is active. Perhaps that will make you are a potential target for future texts — probably different than the ones than people who identify as supporters will be getting.

Whatever you send will help the Conservatives focus their campaign, and, to some degree, their campaign spending — which may be exactly what you want to do.

The (most likely automated) system may not be monitoring anything other than yes and no answers, but if you decide to respond with something, say, more colourful, there’s always that chance that could be saved and stored as well.

(Oh, to be a fly on the wall and read what sort of responses “Sarah” is actually getting! Chances are, some are priceless.)

In any event, caveat responder.

Whatever you send will help the Conservatives focus their campaign, and, to some degree, their campaign spending — which may be exactly what you want to do.

It may also be what you don’t want to do.

Either way, knowledge is power. Even little scraps of knowledge, like your working phone number and voting intentions.

Just remember: there are rules in Canada that govern the storage and use of private information — and when federal politicians drew up those laws for everyone else, they specifically exempted themselves from having to follow the rules.

And if even that doesn’t give you some concerns, something else might.

This “Sarah” might actually be from the Conservative Party: the next one might not be.

Think carefully before responding


RELATED 

Recent Stories