Vision Vancouver is using "negative option billing" to fool members into sharing private info
CityCaucus.com has received a report that people who signed up as Vision Vancouver members are now being repeatedly called by BC NDP phonebanks. The people who have been getting contacted are not NDP supporters and have no other affiliation other than they became Vision Vancouver members during the 2008 nomination battle between Gregor Robertson, Al De Genova and Raymond Louie.
Vision Vancouver's membership form, which can be downloaded directly off the web, has a very sneaky "opt out" clause, in fine 10-point type located on the bottom margin of their form. It reads:
[checkbox] I understand Vision Vancouver occasionally reaches out to new supporters by exchanging lists with other progressive organizations, but I do not want my contact information shared with these organizations.
There is a commonly known expression, "Negative Option Billing," that was brought into disrepute by Rogers Cable in the early 1990s. We'll translate this sentence for you to read:
Hey dummy, if you read all the way to the bottom of this form after you've filled it out and signed it, and you forget to check this box, we'll hand over your information to the NDP.
CityCaucus.com contacted the Office of BC's Privacy Commissioner about Vision's negative option billing. An office representative stated that they "preferred" that organizations did not use opt out clauses for these kinds of forms.
We checked with our sources who became members of Vision, but are now getting pestered by the NDP. They stated that they were aware of the opt out clause, and in all cases checked the box. Vision's connections to the NDP are well-documented, and the NDP party is well-known for its habit of list sharing between unions and other supporter groups.
The representative of the Privacy Commissioner's office was concerned that peoples' private information was being shared without their permission. We are concerned that it is either a direct violation of the rules or the spirit of BC's Personal Information Privacy Act.
We have sent an email to Vision Vancouver requesting that they take immediate steps to curb the sharing of personal information to third parties without their permission. We also are requesting that the Vision Vancouver membership form is immediately edited for clarity, removing the "Opt Out" clause and changing it to an "Opt In" approval, as well as moving that line into the body of the form, not on an outside margin.
We'll share the response from Vision Vancouver with our readers as soon as we hear back. If you are a Vision Vancouver member who asked not to be contacted by third parties but have been getting calls from the NDP, send us a confidential email to firstname.lastname@example.org.