Posts Tagged ‘Canada’

In my previous lengthy write-up, I covered the reasons why I believe S191 of the Tasmanian Electoral Act is bunk, however I left many of the consequences alone. Also, since composing and publishing that post the Tasmanian Electoral Commissioner has published some guidance about internet commentary, but these barely answer any of the issues that exist with the Act. Here, I’ll attempt to delve further down the abyss of Nietzsche’s madness to see what we can find with specific regards to Facebook.

The Commissioner has instructed anyone who might make a comment on an electoral matter (this includes comments from ‘The current Premier’s no good’, to ‘The price of bananas is good at the moment’) that we should put our address ‘on a footer’, or in the case of Facebook ‘may be in the box where you can “write something about yourself”‘ (the ‘About Us’ box). First off, let’s just note as an aside his use of the word ‘may’ leads me to believe he’s unsure about whether this is enough. From my understanding, until S191’s internet clause has been to the Supreme Court, any advice he gives is guesswork. One could argue it’s the most educated guesswork in the land, but guesswork nevertheless. Still, this is a startling admission that the structure of the default web Facebook interface doesn’t give a method by which citizens can comply with the act.

His guideline would seem indicate that as long as the structure and layout of the website is beyond one’s direct control, it’s fine to directly break the act as long as one can find a creative way to attempt to comply. As it’s now OK that the Authorisation address is one click away from any electoral matter, I believe we might have a solution to the issue of how to Authorise Twitter, IM and group chat comments. But this then relies on third-party websites away from where the comment’s made being ‘up’ at the same time as where the matter’s published and remaining so afterwards so people can link the two. We now have the situation where there are various number of clicks and possibly, hosts depending on which platform, between the electoral matter and the authorisation.

What is a real worry, though, is that the Commissioner is requesting that every Tasmanian who makes a comment about an electoral matter (price of eggs) during the election campaign must have minimum privacy settings which expose some personal data. The Canadian Privacy Commissioner famously beat FB into submission about its original settings and yet is still pursuing them. However, the Tasmanian Electoral Commissioner wants to go in the other direction. He has indicated that any Tasmanian who makes a comment which might affect how someone votes (‘price of water’), must change their Account->Privacy Settings->About Me to ‘Everyone’, and pop their physical contact address in the About Me box. Now, I haven’t tested whether this makes an unclick-able profile click-able. I’m going out on a limb and guessing that it does. However, if it doesn’t there’s yet another setting that needs to be changed somewhere for people who usually get around with full ‘shields up’ privacy.

Congratulations. The Commissioner has told each Tasmanian who may make a comment on an Electoral Matter to hand their physical contact address to every member of every group and fan page they’re a member of, irrespective of whether these groups or fan pages have anything to do with Tasmania or the election. ‘10mil Nutters to Smother Themselves in Jelly & Roll Around in Peanut Butter‘? You’d better believe it.

Welcome to the Tasmanian Election 2010, digital style.


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