Awhile back, Roger instigated an Agitator poll on the tension between privacy and transparency in the conduct of nonprofit and political affairs, including fundraising associated with causes and politics. As usual, to defend official secrecy, he laid on us a lot of angst about big brother and political despots, reaching all the way back to Senator Joe McCarthy. And he wanted to learn how The Agitator's readers felt.

Results are in.

Sorry Roger, they never heard of Joe McCarthy. They, like me, tilt unmistakeably toward tranparency … otherwise known as the public's right to know.

Although a healthy minority (44%) of Agitator's survey respondents said the tension between “privacy” and “transparency” was very important to them (giving the issue 8, 9 or 10 on a 10-scale), AND although 73% said they had been marketed to personally in a manner which they felt violated their privacy, apparently their concerns about “sunlight” in the political and fundraising process are paramount:

    • 57% said the public interest would be better served by more transparency in matters of commerce, politics and government, versus 29% who opted for more privacy;
    • 19% believe all donors to causes and candidates should be disclosed; another 29% say donors over some significant amount; and another 43% say only political donors should be disclosed, as opposed to donors to causes and charities (only 9% are opposed to any disclosure);
    • 52% would use data collected online about their donors to market to those donors after they've merely published their privacy policies online, and another 29% would use the data after they had gotten opt-in permission from their donors; and,
    • As for whether privacy or tranparency should be more paramount overall, respondents came down with middling “5” (where “privacy should be most paramount” = 10).

Roger, there is some hope for you in the responses. At least many of our readers believe the matter requires some attention within their own organizations: 29% believe that managing the tension between privacy and transparency requires “far more” attention in their organizations, and another 43% say “somewhat more” attention.

But all in all, I'm declaring victory for transparency. Roger, better re-double your contributions to the ACLU!

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