Smart Tax Alliance half way there on privacy policy

IntegrityBC commends both Smart Tax Alliance and FightHST for establishing privacy policies following the organization’s letter to both groups in August drawing attention to the lack of such policies on their websites.


“Both groups have taken a step in the right direction, but their policies are a study in contrasts,” said IntegrityBC managing director Dermod Travis. “Regrettably, Smart Tax Alliance chose the easy way out with a virtual copy and paste of the BC government’s PIPA (Personal Information Protection Act) template policies, while Fight HST took a more proactive approach to address IntegrityBC’s specific concerns.”

FightHST’s privacy policy clearly states that information it collects “will not be used to promote any political party now or in the future,” but the privacy policy of Smart Tax Alliance may leave the door open to future partisan use of the information it collected during this summer’s HST referendum campaign.

“It’s possible through its cut and paste approach that Smart Tax simply overlooked areas that could be of concern as a result of the underlying political reasons that it was collecting personal information in the first place,” said Travis.

IntegrityBC notes that the Smart Tax Alliance policy permits it to disclose personal information when it is “available from a public source” such as a telephone directory, and that the group may disclose information to conduct future surveys of its supporters or to distribute “information that may be of interest” to them.

With the heavy reliance that Smart Tax placed on robocalls during the referendum campaign, IntegrityBC believes that Smart Tax should commit itself to destroy any information that it gathered through its use of robocalls to address the ambiguity that could exist in regards to the definition of “public sources.”

Smart Tax supporters should also be asked to opt in to future surveys and information bulletins since they were likely under the impression that any information they provided would be strictly used for the HST referendum campaign.

IntegrityBC noted that FightHST also addressed the use of cookies on its website and called on Smart Tax to state its policy as well.