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    Washington Post: Conservatives use Democratic phone bank for own purposes, raise privacy concerns

    The Washington Post reports on privacy questions concerning a Democratic database of voters’ phone numbers:

    The virtual phone bank is a project of Organizing for America, the grass-roots group that grew out of President Obama’s 2008 campaign. It allows anyone to go to Call.BarackObama.com to instantly see the name, sex, phone number, city of residence and polling place address of a voter identified by the organization as a potential supporter of Democratic candidates.

    The aim of the project is to give volunteers an easy way to help get out the vote by phone calling prospective voters anywhere, any time, with minimal hassle. But the fact that literally anyone with a computer and an Internet connection can view voter information has raised privacy questions, and some conservative bloggers and tea party activists are using the system for their own ends. […]

    Kevin DuJan, editor of Hillbuzz.com, an anti-Obama blog, earlier this month suggested that its conservative readers could use the site to identify and call voters in key swing states such as Nevada and Illinois. In a phone interview, he said he is also encouraging people to sabotage the site – pretending to call voters, then claiming on the online form that the voters are deceased or voted early. […]

    It is unlikely that large numbers of fraudulent callers are tipping the scales for voters on the Organizing for America databases, which includes millions of Democrats and independents. But some privacy advocates say the openness of the system leaves room not only for partisan trickery but abuse. […]

    “There’s no logical reason why OFA needs to display pretty much any of the information they provide,” said Shaun Dakin, founder of Stop Political Phone Calls, a nonprofit that opposes robo-calls and maintains a political do-not-call registry. “In general, politicians just play fast and loose with voters’ privacy.”

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