Kingstonians are concerned about a text message they received from the Conservative Party before election day.
While some took it lightly, others were angry about how the party obtained their phone numbers when they had not registered for updates.
The text message, a robotext sent through an automatic messaging program, smeared Liberal leader Justin Trudeau and asked recipients to support the Conservative Party in the current election.
In Canada, the area codes of phone numbers are publicly available through the Canadian Numbering [and Dialling] Plan, which the Canadian Numbering Administrator manages. The codes are then put into a robocaller program, which can send text messages to all possible number combinations.
“The numbers we contact fall into one of two categories—they’re either numbers that Canadians have voluntarily provided us, or they’re randomly generated programmatically through the use of a software program,” Conservative Party spokesperson Cory Hann told Vice in 2019. “Some numbers will work, some will not, some will exist, some don’t at all.“
Robotexts became popular in early 2019, when the Conservative Party of Canada used a similar strategy to reach voters—at the time, texts were sent by “Sarah from Canada’s Conservatives.”
If a recipient responded positively to a text, the party would request additional personal information, such as their name and address.
The Canada Elections Act permits the use of automated messages. Many parties, including the Liberal Party and the NDP, have employed automated calls and texts to elicit votes and support for their policies.
According to the Conservative Party’s website, if a recipient wishes to stop receiving these automated messages, they can contact the National Service Desk at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-866-808-8407.
Zoha Khalid Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, YGK News