REVEALED: Secret files kept by The Age on its readers

theageiswatching The Age newspaper has secretly recorded the personal details of tens of thousands of Victorians – including credit card numbers and financial information – in a database being accessed by an unlimited number of staff at their expensive new HQ on Spencer Street.

In a shocking insight into personal profiling by the left-wing journal, VEXNEWS has gained access to letters sent by The Age to existing subscribers of The Age.

It is understood competitor newspapers might have similar databases capable of profiling readers, including containing their credit card information, sorting by postcode and suburb representing a potentially serious privacy breach.

In one letter – obtained by the famed VEXNEWS Investigations Unit – bearing The Age’s letterhead and what appears to be a mocked-up signature of a Kat Norlyng described ominously as the Subscriber Services Manager, the newspaper lulls the subscriber with an expression of “hope (that) this has been a happy and successful year for you.”

Revealing a highly cynical operation underlying The Age’s poll-driven editorial approach, The Age in the letter dated 15 November this year says they have “implemented exciting product developments this year in response to your feedback.”

It is noted the Liberal party uses a similar database system of attending to constituent inquiries called Feedback. It is unknown whether the Age’s Feedback is the same system as the Liberal party’s Feedback.

The letter – riddled with barcodes that contain secret information used by Australia Post and other authorities – then goes on to induce the dwindling number of subscribers to keep paying for a product increasingly being given away at various cultural venues and to university students.

VEXNEWS spoke – on condition of anonymity – with one subscriber who worried about the barcodes on the letter:

“I’m not sure what they mean,” he said “it’s a bit spooky that they’d put two lots of barcodes on one letter that ostensibly wished me a ‘Merry Christmas’. I suspect they have found out I am a Christian and I wonder how they did this. Surely the Age would send secular season’s greetings to their many atheist readers.”

Some – in Christian circles – have feared that barcodes of this kind are potentially linked to evil-doing of a kind that many have previously considered to be beyond The Age’s current editor-in-chief and redundancy facilitator Paul Ramadge.

In other frightening developments, VEXNEWS can reveal, not for the first time, that The Age implants tracking ‘cookies’ in its website theage.com.au that enable Age senior managers to track the viewing habits of its users including whether users have jumped off from one of sacked columnist Catherine Deveny’s old columns to, say, a website about suicide methods.

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28 Comments

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28 responses to “REVEALED: Secret files kept by The Age on its readers

  1. Rob

    Tis the mark of the beast…….

  2. anon

    as an age subscriber i feel….violated. The fact they’ve collected my persdonal information and know which exciting offers will lead to my enjoyment is just disturbing.

  3. Anonymous

    The Age story on political parties maintaining databases on constituents must be the most Captain Obvious stupid story of all time. Just wasting column inches and the time of their remaining readers.

  4. LeftRightOut

    lol… I wonder who the sarcasm is lost on.

  5. BS Detector

    Nice backhand, Andrew.

  6. scared shitless

    I do not subscribe or read the Age but I feel my rights have been violated just by their very existence.

  7. Sotherby

    fantastic, truly a piece of art.

  8. Bill Sikes

    I understand that The Age broke into the Labor Party’s Electrac database using purloined passwords and usernames. Politicians’ use of this data is permissiable under the Data Protection Act, but surely The Age’s actions warrant the attention of Inspector Knacker?

  9. Wendy

    I’m sure this site could devise a data base of its readers:
    Idiots
    Dolts
    Boofs
    Buffoons
    Implant recipients
    Drop outs
    Sheep
    Trumpet players
    Hand experts
    Sotherby

  10. RJ

    My guess is there’s nothing sinister here at all. Barcodes, particular the one above the address, are used to save on postage costs. A letter to an address costs some 60c to send, but sending the same letter to a barcode costs…I think 42ish cents.

    Don’t know about the other codes, but I doubt there’s anything improper happening.

  11. Captain Wacky

    There’s one for you, LeftRightOut.

  12. Anon

    This is pure gold.

    RJ – you reckon?

  13. Perry White

    I note Pravada in drag (the Age for for you Green Oarty drones reading this) also seeks details of your exact location when you log into its iPad or iPhone apps.

    That woudl’t be going into a secret database, would it? The just seek the data so they can immediately discards it, don’t they?

    I think this rag has no shortage of Staasi sympathisers.

  14. HarryB

    I just saw an ad for the Greens on Vexnews in the right hand column under Categories. What next? Ads for Scientology.

    Where’s my E Meter?

  15. Sotherby

    Oh Wendy, i know now that it is that you think about when you hit the hay each night.

    Wendy you would certainly be taking pride of place in the fruitcake file.

  16. anon

    As an ex-ALP member and voter I feel violated. The fact the ALP collected my personal information and details via Electrack for their own re-election is a vile breach of trust and my privacy. I’m waiting with glee to watch the sad faces of the ALP MPs who will lose their seats on Saturday.

  17. Wendy

    Sotherby, that does not make sense. Are you drinking again? Lay off the pills too, they don’t seem to be helping…

  18. Dithering

    Andrew,

    According to you The Age is cactus.

    So how can it be acting as Big Brother? Kid sister, maybe?

  19. Josef Stalin

    I am pleased. The NKVD never went this far but I see my disciples at the Age are following my every decree.

  20. can't you idiots detect irony

    Vexnews is beating up the usage of bar codes and databases by the Age to illustrate its silly front page ‘scandal’ about major parties utilising electronic file management systems for constituents. Landeryou was taking the piss, you dolts!

  21. Sotherby

    Wendy why the doctors stopped medicating you i dont know, but you should take pride of place in any government mental health PSA- also lay off the bong water.

  22. Dan Lewis

    “can’t you idiots detect irony ” – thanks for the explanation. It was needed, as (in case you didn’t get the memo) a lot of people DON’T read The Age and might miss the clever irony.

  23. VEXNEWS

    Guilty as charged.

  24. Josef Stalin

    My spirit lives on at the age.

  25. RJ

    @Anon: Um, I reckon what?

  26. Siobhan

    roflmao. Clever piece – wd vexers.

  27. joffa

    Labor and Liberal should be ashamed of taking personal information given to representatives in the course of the constituent / representative relationship and then making it available to countless campaign staff for the purpose of political marketing.

    How can anyone feel confident approaching their local MP if they have to risk that information being disseminated to countless others? This practice has the potential to completely corrupt the representative / constituent relationship and by extension, the supposedly representative nature of our democracy.

    Landeryou is way off the mark: The accurate equivalent here would be if the Age’s reporters passed details from news sources and interview subjects on to the Age’s advertising department for marketing and sales purposes.

  28. Don Stone

    why all this fuss about a mail, email registry or log. Name me one company that does not log correspondence. It should not be surprising that an MPs staff has access to this information. The Age infers it is used for nefarious purposes. Its not. the software is not that sophisticated, and the users are certainly not. The only fields that are used for campaigning are the address fields. And this is supplied by the electoral commission. Gender or age are the only fields that are used. A complete beat up. And by the way poltical parties have been using variations of the same software since the mid-80s. There is nothing new, exciting, or insiduous. It hardly rated a front page. Nothing like the customer loyalty databases, credit card infor, point of sale software etc used by the local supermarkets or even the Age as your correspondingly so accurately and ironically points out

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