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Monday, July 23, 2007


A company by the name of just sent me material on their list of 167 million registered voters. Along with name and address, I can also buy your race, ethnicity, and date of birth. The latter, of course, is one of the essentials to steal your identity. There are several voter lists on the market. I counted 88 listed in Standard Rate & Data, the authority for list professionals. They come in all flavors: Democrat, Republican, Independent or just Other; they’re broken down by region, state, legislative district, baby boomers, pro-choice, voting viewpoint, affluent Americans, hunters, liberals, conservatives, pet lovers, even “devoted” voters, whatever that means. If you don’t know where I’m going, the emphasis here is on what the junk mail industry can do to a simple name and address. It’s called enhancement, and the more selective information they add to that name and address, the higher the price goes, and further out the window goes your privacy. will sell you all 167 million names for $99,300. OK, voting registrations are public records, but not many people know that states can sell the data, according to a story from In 2004, a California privacy task force said the state should tell voters that it is selling voter registration information. In some states, even commercial marketers can buy the list, adding to it enhancements like income, purchasing histories, other demographics, and family lifestyles. You get the idea. Your life is an open book, and every page of it is for sale. Beth Givens, founder and director of Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, said California “hasn’t had the inclination or the resources to monitor companies selling voter lists or the people who buy them.” Another company marketing voter lists nationwide is Aristotle, who claims in their 2004 article “was selling voter information online to anyone who wanted to buy it, without verifying their identity or purpose.” So when you boil it down, if I want to exercise my right to vote, which is guaranteed in our Constitution, I have to give up my personal information, which is made public, and can be manipulated and added to for the sake of profitability, and then sold to just about anyone willing to buy. Capitalism at its best.

1 comment:

ShawnHarmon said...

Mr. Dunning - My evidence---and it maybe limited--- suggests DOB is not used for identity theft.


What references do you cite for your observation? I have been told fraud prevention is actually dependent on date of birth information.

Did e-Merges postcard indicate you could be prosecuted for a felony for misuse of the voter data? Did the postcard e-Merges sent say it only sells the data to unrestricted or permitted users only?

You paint a fairly broad stroke with your condemnations. I fear you throw the baby out with the bathwater in doing so.


Shawn Harmon