Earlier, we reported East Kootenay provincial New Democrats are calling on the party to "cease immediately" it's practice of sharing membership information with outside organizations for fundraising purposes. But, in an interview with Public Eye, New Democrat communications officer David Bieber explained that information sharing process is "extremely common. Everyone from the Arthritis Society (of Canada) to the David Suzuki Foundation does this. And we're no exception to that."
Here's how to it works: according to Mr. Bieber, the party "makes our membership list available to businesses that specifically manage the trading of (membership) lists with other organizations. So we don't just email all of our information to other organizations because that certainly would be a violation of privacy. What we do is the trade operation brokers a swap whereby we agree (to give an organization) 5,000 of our names in exchange for 5,000 of theirs. And then (the names) go only to a mailing house which deals with them strictly and confidentially." And it's that mailing house which distributes the fundraising letters. "The other organization doesn't ever see the inside information on our list."
"We also give all of our members an opportunity to be excluded from this practice," continued Mr. Bieber. "We regularly remind folks that if they want to be put on the do not trade list they simply need to call us up and their name will not be included in these swaps."
Mr. Bieber also said the party has looked into the East Kootenay constituency association's allegation that such trading has "caused a breakdown in the privacy protection of this sensitive information, on at least one occassion." But "we found there was no breech in privacy."