Radikale denies Big Brother accusations

Political party defends ‘cookie’ distribution while accusing the media of misunderstanding the situation

(photo: Stephen Wright)
November 21st, 2012 6:19 pm| by admin
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Government coalition party Radikale (R) is insisting that it has broken no laws after Jyllands-Posten newspaper accused the party of digitally spying on voters in the last election.

“It’s a normal part of online campaigning,” R spokesperson Rasmus Grue Christensen told Politiken newspaper. “That includes campaigns launched by newspapers, companies and political parties. We’ve done nothing wrong.”

The controversy arose when Jyllands-Posten reported that the party's website was downloading 'cookies' – small pieces of data that are stored in a user's web browser that can be used to keep track of a user's previous online activity – during the election, without giving users notice.

Anyone who participated in questionnaires or clicked on particular links on R's homepage during the 2011 election would have exposed their computer to almost 300,000 cookies.

These cookies would then send the political party information, which they could use to build political profiles of thousands of potential voters.

While the party was accused of 'Big Brother' tactics, Christensen insisted that the media had gotten it all wrong.

“The cookies in question pre-date any current laws on data notification,” Christensen wrote in a press release. “Yes, as of December 2011, online users needed to be made aware of any cookies that are automatically downloaded onto their computers. But the election was in September 2011. Therefore, no laws were broken.”

Christensen also insisted that all measures had been approved by the party’s media consultants, Mindshare. The company's CEO, Martin Ove Rasmussen, released a statement criticising Jylland-Posten's story.

“Before Jyllands-Posten published their article, I thoroughly explained to them that the story was based on several misunderstandings. It apparently did not make any impression,” Rasmussen wrote. “There should be no doubt whatsoever that the campaign we developed for Radikale was entirely legal and is based upon a set-up used in almost all digital campaigns today.”

The party has promised that all future online user who access their homepage will be warned of any future cookie downloads that might occur.

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