Hillary Clinton has been touted as the “privacy candidate” for the 2008 Presidential elections, which is certainly a good reason to consider voting for her (not my sole criterion, but one of the top 5).
This recent NY Times story, however, casts a cloud over any claim she might be able to make as an advocate for privacy rights. It appears that both Bill and Hillary Clinton have benefited from their close relationship to Vinod Gupta, founder of infoUSA, one of the largest brokers of personal information. You might recall that infoUSA was recently implicated in an investigation that found they had, perhaps knowingly, sold consumer data to telemarketing criminals who used it to steal money from elderly Americans.
I’m sure this story will get a lot of play due to the potential ethical violations of taking gifts during a campaign, but equally important is the nature of who the Clintons appear to be benefiting from – a privacy-violating information broker. This part of the story deserves additional attention.
[Kevin from Question Technology had trouble posting a comment, so he e-mailed it to me. Here it is]
I recalled reading something about the Clintons in Robert O’Harrow’s book “No Place to Hide”, and went to check… He doesn’t mention infoUSA, but describes their ties with another information broker, Acxiom. Both Clintons received money from Acxiom, and soon after 9-11 Acxiom went to Bill Clinton for help selling John Ashcroft on the idea that Acxiom’s marketing databases could be used for anti-terrorism work. Wesley Clark is also heavily involved with Acxiom and their new role in this kind of work.
I don’t know if there’s necessarily anything that unusual or untoward in their relationship with Acxiom, compared with the infoUSA story, but it might be another point against her claim as “privacy candidate.”