Vision Vancouver have let their membership down on a basic matter of trust
CityCaucus.com was contacted by BC's Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner (OIPC) in response to our complaint last Spring against Vision Vancouver. The gist of the original complaint was to ask the civic party to come clean on the matter of its membership form "opt out" clause. In short, unless you checked a box located below the bottom margin next to a statement in miniscule type, your personal information would become fair game for a third party.
That third party is the BC NDP and Vision Vancouver's membership lists were used in aid of their failed 2009 election campaign to take back power in Victoria.
After our complaint, Vision Vancouver's board took their own sweet time responding to the OIPC. Even more embarrassing for the fledgling civic electors organization, they tried to deceive the Privacy Commissioner by resubmitting their membership form with the opt out clause removed. Tsk.
Hey, we all make amateur mistakes. But when you hold the confidential information of over 17,000 citizens, it's always wise to err on the side of caution.
According to the representative of the OIPC who spoke with CityCaucus.com on Tuesday, Vision Vancouver have agreed to the following concessions.
- First of all they apologized to the OIPC for the sluggish response to their concerns, and promise in future to be more immediate in addressing complaints, especially when a government organization is involved.
- Vision Vancouver declared they "will not release their membership list information to any third party GOING FORWARD." The emphasis is ours, but you can understand why. Weasel words like these indicate the fundamental dishonesty that has already taken place.
- Vision Vancouver will leave the Opt Out clause on their membership form UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. Vision will not commit to the OIPC that they will not use the deceptive opt out practice, only that they will consider it further and develop a policy on whether or not to use it in future. As the OIPC rep stated, "they have to think more about it."
- The party will develop a confidentiality agreement for anyone who has access to confidential information. Again, after four years it's amazing that none exists.
- Vision promises to update and draft a proper set of organizational by-laws which they will make available under the terms of the societies act.
From what we can see, Vision Vancouver have conducted themselves in an amateurish fashion, and have undoubtedly been careless when it comes to the personal information of their members. It's our hope for the sake of those who they sign up that they will raise their standards for security.
CityCaucus.com's further concern about the use of the membership lists by the BC NDP during the 2009 election (and the 2008 by-elections) is being raised as a separate complaint in the weeks ahead. Keep your web channel tuned to CityCaucus.com for further developments.