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Govt website users redirected through Liberal Party campaign platform

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A report tabled in state parliament has found there is no evidence personal data was harvested from people using state government websites – but confirms that users were redirected through a platform used by the Liberal Party to collect data for political campaigning.

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The report by the Privacy Committee of South Australia states it wrote to government agencies seeking advice on how the “stateliberalleader.nationbuilder.com” was embedded in their websites and documents.

The State Opposition says the report also confirms the Ombudsman may now investigate how the Liberal Party embedded its NationBuilder link into taxpayer-funded State Government websites.

But according to SA Labor, the committee did not conduct any independent investigations of its own, rather collated responses from government agencies.

It also did not ask for evidence from the Liberal Party about whether it collected data through the embedding of links in Government websites.

An ABC News investigation identified close to 100 examples of State Government links redirecting users through “stateliberalleader.nationbuilder.com” – a website operated by the Liberal Party to gather information on voters which they then use to target voters with political material during election campaigns.

The Liberals began using the NationBuilder platform in Opposition, with a leaked 2015 document revealed by InDaily detailing its potential.

It discontinued the use of NationBuilder for emailing its media releases in March following the ABC report, but a statement from Premier Steven Marshall at the time insisted: “The Marshall Liberal Government has not been using state government websites to collect or track data for the Liberal Party.”

Marshall told reporters yesterday the Privacy Committee report confirmed that there was no data harvesting.

Shadow Minister for Government Accountability Tom Koutsantonis said the Privacy Committee report was not nearly enough to clear the government.

“It’s ludicrous to claim that a committee appointed by and reporting to the Attorney-General, has cleared the Government of wrongdoing,” he said.

“The use of these party-political links on official government websites needs to be independently investigated and reported directly to the Parliament.

“What we have learned today though, is that contrary to the Premier’s earlier claims, the Privacy Committee confirmed users were redirected through the Liberal Party’s data harvesting platform NationBuilder.

“The fact these links were embedded and redirect citizens from a State Government website to a Liberal Party website is clearly a breach of privacy.”

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