OTTAWA – The Green Party of Canada removed a series of accessible campaign training videos from its website and informed Elections Canada of "oversight" after CTV News found that they contained voter personal data.
In a statement late on Tuesday, the Green Party said the Canadian elections had been contacted about the "mistake" that has since been corrected.
"Due to supervision, a small number of videos hosted in an in-house training section on our site contained images of some information from the Canadian Elections. The information mainly refers to names and addresses and only included a small number of Canadian voters. "said the party. said in a statement.
The videos were included as part of a publicly accessible Google Drive, which the party calls the "Organizer Toolbox" which can be accessed by following a link on the party's website. It contains interview manuals, cheat sheets on various aspects of running campaigns, organization charts and instructions on how to contact voters, among other election-focused volunteer guides.
Until Tuesday afternoon, this set of campaign guides included a folder of recorded webinars designed to train people working in Green Party campaigns. Some of these video tutorials explained how to use the party's voter information system, "GVote", and through screen sharing, revealed some pages of voter personal information contained in the system – information that should only be seen by those with authorized access.
While the party statement calls it the "internal training section", party spokeswoman Debra Eindiguer said that while it was a mistake for the videos to be publicly viewable, the rest of the training document database must be public for volunteers across the country to access this.
In a follow-up statement, Green Party communications director John Chenery further clarified that this was "the part that inadvertently allowed access to some internal training videos."
This "oversight" was revealed on the day the party fulfilled its promise to protect Canadians' personal data.
In an interview, May told CTV News that "he was not intimidated by this unfortunate incident that has now been fixed."
What the videos showed
The video tutorials showed you step by step how to use the system that organizes all Green Party voter data – called "GVote" – to perform various functions, such as organizing polling initiatives, determining who requested lawn signs. , and how to email voters at specific races.
In some videos, the personal information listed includes the names, addresses, and phone numbers of voters. Others also showed people's email addresses, whether they were active members or party volunteers, and how they scored in terms of party support.
In some cases, the limited lists of names shown appeared to be people who expressed interest in the party, while another look appeared to be a voter residence by residence of voters in a particular race.
Until the party drops them, these videos can be downloaded and shared with anyone with access to the link. It is still unclear how long these videos have been published and whether anyone at the party will be scolded for what Eindiguer called "obviously an incredibly terrible mistake."
CTV News contacted more than a dozen people whose names and information were visible in the videos. Seven people responded and confirmed that their information shown in the videos was accurate and did not know it was accessible in this way.
All parties have some sort of voter information database, which is critical to maintaining voter contact on the ground at every race. The information contained in these systems is usually a combination of:
Elections Canada's voter lists, which are provided to registered political parties and include their names and addresses;
Information the party collects from public data sources, such as telephone directories and through voter reach, such as knocking on the door; and
Information that people send to the party when they sign up to volunteer, donate or subscribe to newsletters.
Information about the elections in Canada is supplied under conditions authorized recipients to take "reasonable precautions to protect the security and confidentiality of Canadian Voters personal information", including restricting who has access to such information and technical safeguards to minimize the risk of unauthorized access.
CTV News contacted the Canadian Elections to comment.
Promises to protect data
Speaking about the promise of privacy on Tuesday morning, May accused "major political parties" of being interested in collecting data from Canadians and "not being interested in protecting it."
His concern was the "dangerous" collection and use of personal information for purposes unknown to Canadians, such as directing and influencing voters' opinions.
"Data protection is emerging as one of the key issues of our time. Data is extremely valuable and its collection and misuse is a credible threat to democracy," the party said in its policy statement.
In addition, the policy states that the party has safeguards to prevent "unauthorized use, sharing, loss and theft of information" and that the party applies "several different levels of access to data on our systems" to ensure that employees and volunteers "only gain access to information as needed."
As part of a series of changes in electoral law, liberals have demanded that political parties publish their privacy policies online, but have stopped subjecting parties to stricter privacy rules and overseeing the data they collect from the electorate, despite requests from May and others to do so.