Arizona Politician Accused Of Using Voter Database To Stalk Young Woman

from the database-abuse dept

We've talked in the past about how pretty much any government database eventually gets abused by someone looking for info about someone beyond the scope of what the database is for, and now Michael Scott points us to news of how the executive director of the Arizona Republican Party, Bruce Mecum, has been accused of using the party's voter database to stalk a female grad student. This isn't a "government" database, as it's just the political party's database. But, the database is used like a marketing database to better target messages. Or stalking opportunities, which apparently seriously creeped out some people. The response from the party's treasurer wasn't exactly reassuring:
"He used Voter Vault. The The Republican National Committee owns Voter Vault....It's a private list. We own the list. We can do what we want with the list, quite frankly."
Including stalking? This isn't a "Republican" thing either. I'm sure some Democrats misuse their databases as well, so hopefully the comments can avoid blindly supporting or hating on this or that political party. The key point here is that it's yet another example of a database that's supposed to be used for one purpose, being used for stalking instead.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Joe (profile), Dec 18th, 2009 @ 9:59am

    Yikes

    That response is pretty creepy. And they Republican party wonders why they keep losing so many voters...

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 18th, 2009 @ 10:02am

    How are these particular lists made anyway?

     

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  3.  
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    Marcus Carab (profile), Dec 18th, 2009 @ 10:06am

    Re: Yikes

    ....aaaand the partisan comments begin immediately. Luvverly.

     

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  4.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Dec 18th, 2009 @ 10:09am

    Re: Re: Yikes

    "....aaaand the partisan comments begin immediately. Luvverly."

    Yeah, I was going to do a "good luck with that" comment as soon as I saw Mike's line, but I figured I'd give everyone a shot.

    Oh well, seems more people need to be educated on how both parties are equally evil because they all end up reporting to the same bosses....

     

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  5.  
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    Another AC, Dec 18th, 2009 @ 10:11am

    Buuuut...

    Why not let the government have their databases, after all if you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to worry about.

     

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  6.  
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    bshock, Dec 18th, 2009 @ 10:18am

    It's difficult for me to get excited about a politician misusing his authority.

    But I do feel a certain smug confirmation of what mindless neanderthals these creatures happen to be. Apparently Mr. Mecum doesn't understand how very quick and easy it is to track someone down via the Internet.

     

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  7.  
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    Designerfx (profile), Dec 18th, 2009 @ 10:25am

    well

    both dems and republicans can obtain your SOC via just your zip code and your last name, if you've ever registered to vote. It's disgutsting.

     

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  8.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Dec 18th, 2009 @ 10:27am

    Re: Buuuut...

    You know what? I do have something to hide; my identity from stalkers.

    (I know you were being sarcastic, but I had to say it;)

     

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  9.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Dec 18th, 2009 @ 10:28am

    Re: Buuuut...

    (pSST! you forgot your /sarcasm tag.)

     

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  10.  
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    Brad Hubbard (profile), Dec 18th, 2009 @ 10:32am

    Re:

    When you register with your party in a particular state. That's how they know to send you information and literature. It's an opt-in database, but not one you expect to be used to stalk you. There's also not an obvious way to remove your info from it, usually.

     

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  11.  
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    Brad Hubbard (profile), Dec 18th, 2009 @ 10:33am

    Re: Buuuut...

    You forgot to read the part where this isn't a government database.

     

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  12.  
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    Another AC, Dec 18th, 2009 @ 10:36am

    Re: Re: Buuuut...

    No I read it, what difference does it make, The fact that it is held by politicians is the point. It will be abused.

     

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  13.  
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    CastorTroy-Libertarian, Dec 18th, 2009 @ 10:38am

    Im in a 3rd party, and while id like to think it wouldnt happen to us, unfortunatly it most likely will....or has...

    I would think both Mecum and the Treasurer would be kicked out of the party, one for mis-use, and the other for being a douchebag...

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    interval, Dec 18th, 2009 @ 10:47am

    Re: Yikes

    "And they Republican party wonders why they keep losing so many voters..."

    Right. You'd never catch a Democrat, like, say, Bill Clinton misusing his position to say, get a blow job in the Oval Office. Wait...

     

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  15.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Dec 18th, 2009 @ 10:48am

    Re:

    "Im in a 3rd party, and while id like to think it wouldnt happen to us, unfortunatly it most likely will....or has..."

    The shame is that the current political system requires a party at all.

    People can have their groups, I guess. I just think it's better to have individual ideas....

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 18th, 2009 @ 10:51am

    Re: Re:

    Stalking or no, that doesn't sound like a very good deal.

     

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  17.  
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    bwp (profile), Dec 18th, 2009 @ 11:03am

    Re: Re: Re: Yikes

    **Oh well, seems more people need to be educated on how both parties are equally evil because they all end up reporting to the same bosses....**

    Unfortunately those bosses aren't the citizens but the corporations.

     

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  18.  
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    Lance (profile), Dec 18th, 2009 @ 11:09am

    Another way to look at it...

    What's the solution to this kind of thing? How is the line here different than when other people blame some technology for a societal ill (i.e. video games are practice grounds for violent behavior)?

    Did the fact that such a database exists cause someone to misuse the data, or did the person choose to misuse the database? The bottom line is that if you create a database then there is some likelihood that it will be misused by those that have the means to access it.

    Do not fall into the trap that we often accuse others of falling into, blaming the technology for enabling a person's bad behavior.

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 18th, 2009 @ 11:10am

    Re:

    From two sources, it appears that this "voter vault" is also built up from various marketing lists.

    LA Times
    blogcritics.org

     

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  20.  
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    Murdoch's #37 fan, Dec 18th, 2009 @ 11:20am

    Another perv Republican. Potentially the only political party with more members in the closet or perving on something than actually straight and normal.

     

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  21.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Dec 18th, 2009 @ 11:21am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Yikes

    "Unfortunately those bosses aren't the citizens but the interational bankers."

    FTFY. You were on the right track, just one step short. After all, you both finances and sits on the boards of the large corporations?

     

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  22.  
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    jjmsan (profile), Dec 18th, 2009 @ 11:42am

    Re: Another way to look at it...

    The existance of a database is not being objected to. The article was being used to point to the fact that large accumulations of information are misused and the entity that has access to large amount of info about us is the government. Furthermore we are required by law to supply that information in many cases. Also your boldface key seems to have gotten stuck

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 18th, 2009 @ 12:02pm

    Both the Democrats and Republicans running Arizona don't seem to have much intelligence. Pervs, illegal alien sympathizers, politicians taking personal loans from businesses they rallied to have money invested into from the state, etc. We got them all here.

     

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  24.  
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    Derek Bredensteiner (profile), Dec 18th, 2009 @ 12:06pm

    Re: Yikes

    Way to go Joe ...

     

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  25.  
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    Derek Bredensteiner (profile), Dec 18th, 2009 @ 12:15pm

    Re: Re:

    Here here - I'm hereby forming the NonParty. No agenda, no ideals, nothing. Not even an agenda that says "we have no agenda".

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Dec 18th, 2009 @ 12:27pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    "Here here - I'm hereby forming the NonParty. No agenda, no ideals, nothing. Not even an agenda that says "we have no agenda"."

    Outstanding. We'll spend our time talking about nothingness, watching shows about nothing like Seinfeld, and voting independently, without having our preferences prescribed to us....

     

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  27.  
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    Brad Morrison, Dec 18th, 2009 @ 1:31pm

    Chris Greenwood (Phoenix Independent Examiner) asserts that Mecum's misuse of Voter Vault constitutes a felony. I agree in principle, since the input is state voter registration records. VV is 20 years old, though, so the GOP may have managed to wire in exceptions in most, maybe all states.

    Google Mecum. He's quite a character. I think he should walk for this one to get his arrogance puffed up enough to do something truly stupid. His explanation for the troubles he's had is that his Democratic enemies are setting him up.

    So maybe his next caper will require a Republican to administer the smackdown.

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Brad Morrison, Dec 18th, 2009 @ 1:37pm

    Felony, FYI

    The original article states, "In fact, it is a felony to use the voter registration database (aka Voter Vault) for anything other than official purposes. In Arizona, misuse of the voter registration database is a Class 6 felony, which means Mecum could face a couple of years in the clink if convicted. If the staffer knew why he was looking up the woman's information, the staffer could also face charges. Additionally, to access Voter Vault, which is a customized interface for the database, the user must sign an agreement with the Republican Party saying they will only use the database for party-related business."

    Wait a minute ... isn't AZ the home of that bat$#!+ crazy sheriff?

     

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  29.  
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    Joe (profile), Dec 22nd, 2009 @ 5:16pm

    Re: Re: Re: Yikes

    Whoa whoa whoa, you're not implying I simply vote the other party now, are you? I'm simply saying that THAT party is pretty messed up, for better or worse, and this story isn't helping them out...

     

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  30.  
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    Joe (profile), Dec 22nd, 2009 @ 5:55pm

    Re: Re: Yikes

    Glad you enjoyed it. Funny how everyone just assumes I vote or speak for the "other party" though.

     

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  31.  
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    mikey, Sep 19th, 2011 @ 8:12pm

    So If The Shoe Is On The Other Foot?

    So since it's a private database, then using their logic, if I acquire a database of all their party members that have a net worth of more than $1 million dollars from a list broker and steal their identities to get some cash, then it's OK. After all, it's a private database, right?

    While I wouldn't do that, who is to say that the next "stalker" misappropriating their database won't?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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