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"America has two great dominant strands of political thought - conservatism, which, at its very best, draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which, at its very best, breaks down barriers that should never have been erected." -- Bill Clinton, Dedication of the Clinton Presidential Library, November 2004

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Monday, May 31, 2004


Deanlink data update

posted by Aziz P. at Monday, May 31, 2004 permalink View blog reactions
The campaign definitely did NOT authorize the use of the data on Deanlink by any third party. I was personally contacted by three former staffers who gave me their word.

So how did the data get to Plink? As several commentators pointed out, the DeanLink data was stored in public FOAF (RDF / XML) files on the web. As a result, a well-designed spider could crawl through DeanLink and extract the information. I had thought that these feeds were locked behind a registration barrier, but apparently the feeds were designed to be read publicly. The feeds are still active - check out this example.

Some people expressed concern that other data might also have been sold, such as one who starte getting Kerry solicitations without asking for it. Rest assured that the Kerry campaign is using mailing lists also compiled from public sources, and this isn't an issue. I myself have received Nader and even Bush mailings, which is kind of funny. However, it's entirely possible that email adresses were not protected, which would be typical beaior but not alarming.

Overall I am satisfied and relieved that the campaign did not actively sell private data. However I had assumed that Deanlink data was indeed private, and when I registered there was no indication in their privacy statement that I was putting myself on an open database accessible by unprotected feeds. At the very least, DFA had a duty to share the details of how Deanlink operated with more transparency so this kind of rude surprise would not have occurred (and there would have been no need for me to question their practices, either).

Hat tip to BenT for most of the links and being patient :)


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About Nation-Building

Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.