Vision responds to our complaint, but questions remain
It came in as a terse email response from Vision Vancouver staffer Kurt Heinrich.
Please see the attached response to your complaint.
Back in April, CityCaucus.com were alerted to concerns that Vision Vancouver's membership list had not only been compromised in support of BC NDP candidates, but that personal private information had been shared without the permission of current or former members of the civic party.
Then there was the matter of the Vision membership form with the teeny-tiny opt out clause below the bottom margin. Effectively, the clause said if you don't check this little box we're handing out your personal private contact details to "other progressive groups" (read: The NDP).
So as upstanding citizens concerned about the respect of personal information, naturally we contacted Vision Vancouver by email with a request that they not only provide evidence that they had not breached their members' privacy, but that they discontinue using that deceptive opt out practice used by other groups like the fiery COPE 378.
We received no response from Vision after 30 days, so we took the matter up with the BC Office of the Privacy Commissioner (OIPC), who took it up with Vision directly on our behalf. Vision claimed they had not received our original request, so we resubmitted it through OIPC's office. This weekend, about two months after this process began, we got our response.
The concern we have now is, did the Vision Vancouver board mislead BC's Privacy Commissioner in their response? And what is the penalty if they are indeed liable? We'll be picking up the matter with Privacy Commissioner David Loukidelis based upon some interesting details which we share below.
Let's look at the weasel-wording of the letter from Vision Vancouver co-chairs Carolyn Askew & Denise Taschereau.
"Vision Vancouver has not shared its membership list with any political party and it is the policy of our organization that our membership list not be shared."
The specific question put to Vision was whether the list had been shared with the BC NDP. It has, and the thousands of phone calls that went out to Vision members in support of Vancouver NDP candidates during the Spring election campaign prove it. Vision Vancouver have not given evidence that they did not share their lists - period.
Secondly, what "policy" are they referring to? There are no by-laws or any information regarding the rules of the organization available publicly. Their updated website has even obscured information about who works for them either as staff or on their board. There is no link to navigate on visionvancouver.ca that clearly explains who these guys really are.
"In addition, as you will see, the wording on our membership form (enclosed) complies with the legislation."
Here is Vision Vancouver's membership form sent to the Privacy Commissioner, which is the one currently posted on their website.
Can't see the difference? The new form has the opt out clause (in tiny type at the bottom) conveniently removed to deceive the Privacy Commissioner.
We will be taking this matter up with Commissioner Loukidelis' office, and asking for a fuller investigation of the actions of Vision Vancouver. Stay tuned to CityCaucus.com for further developments.