GetUp! Scamming Anti-Censorship Freedom Fighters

Some rather disturbing information has come to my attention recently regarding the misuse of No Net Censorship donated funds by GetUp!

For quite some time now GetUp has been asking for donations from people to oppose Kevin Rudd’s net censorship regime. A worthy cause. Their appeal for cash states:

“What’s the internet worth to you? We’re taking our message online to defend our online freedoms, thanks to this dynamic web ad on the right.

Your $50 will show 4000 people this ad, $100 will buy 10,000 views. Thanks for chipping in to defend our digital economy and democratic freedoms.”

To date, it has raised just under $50,000. A large sum. A good cause.

The problem, however, is that, on the basis of all available evidence before me, not once cent of this money has been spent on the purpose for which it has been donated.

To the best of my knowledge, no advertisements have appeared. None. Not one. Instead, the money has gone into GetUp!’s general coffers, and as such has been used to fund their recent climate-change activism spending spree. Many people have written to GetUp! about this, with no response. The best response I have received from them to date personally is that they are lobbying ‘behind the scenes’.

Irrespective of your thoughts on GetUp!’s climate change activism, the morality of this issue is clear. People donated for a specific purpose. They were promised their money would go to a specific purpose. They were betrayed.

Furthermore, from my perspective (and I hasten to add that these are my personal thoughts, and not to be construed as legal advice), this is a clear breach of the legal framework governing such donations. Such transactions, I would posit, fall under the sub-division of equity law that is trust law. And the law is very clear, very specific in that money donated for a specific purpose MUST be used for that purpose. Exceptions obviously apply if the purpose becomes moot and the agreement is taken to have ‘failed’ (where all sorts of fun issues of resultant trusts apply), but this is clearly not applicable in this instance. They have a clear obligation to fulfill the wishes of their donors. No exceptions.

Similarly, GetUp!’s donation policy, which states that “If we are unable to use your contribution for the purpose you specify, either because of oversubscription or for another unforeseen reason, it is our policy to use your contribution for other campaign advertising, public relations, advocacy or organising activities” is clearly inapplicable, as neither over subscription nor a legally relevant unforeseen reason (changing their minds doesn’t count!) applies. Indeed if anything it strengthens the case against them, as it specifically states that, barring certain circumstances (which are obviously unfulfilled here), it will use the purpose for which the donor specifies.

That GetUp! has breached their legal obligation to donors is clear to me. What’s worse though is that they have behaved in an ethically despicable fashion, and effectively stolen the money from well-intentioned donors for their own end. Words like embezzlement, corruption and fraud spring to mind.

I have warned libertarians away from donating to GetUp!. They have a long history of ethical misconduct – need we mention their “impartial” 2007 Election Vote Generator where it was a literally impossible to get an outcome telling you to vote for the Coalition? When Coalition MP’s were told to vote against themselves? Yet somehow they were able to portray themselves as something more than Labor Party apparatchiks in this case. In the end though, the truth shall out.

So what do we have. While the Digital Liberty Coalition is working damn hard to stop this draconian legislation, and doing a damn good job, we have GetUp! taking the money people donated and running off with it. It makes me sick.

I have spoken on this matter in detail with a couple of solid Liberal MP’s who are very much with us on this issue, and they are very interested in pursuing this matter further, and in trying to force GetUp! to use the money the way they promised they would. If anyone is interested in putting pressure on GetUp! to keep their promises, please flick me an email at timintheus followed by the at symbol and then gmail.com.

Together we can defeat this evil legislation. But it will take us all working together for a common cause.

Update: I have been informed that some already pissed off donors have started a “GetUp!? GET ACCOUNTABLE – Dont’ steal money from Anti-Censorship Donors” Facebook group. The description reads:

GetUp! has taken at least $45,000 in donations to oppose Interent filtering. The figure was previously over $55,000, but mysteriously shrunk. To date, it seems almost nothing has been done with the money despite filtering trials going ahead. We fear they will attempt to syphon it off for use on other projects.

What happened to the higher figure? No one knows…

What’s happening to this money? Could be anything

If you value your money being spent properly, join!

Update 2: An alleged few small ads on websites like the SMH a few months ago (which ultimatly end up asking you for more money anyway) do not count.

Update 3: Full disclosure to people asking. Yes I am affiliated to the Liberal Party. But what better way to ensure this is blocked than that the Libs stand with us? I mean let’s be honest, without their opposition in the Senate, we have no chance! Even if you don’t agree with the Libs (heck I don’t agree with them on a LOT of issues – just read this blog! lol) you have to recognize that they are the only way we can defeat this legislation. And many of them want to work with us – we have a number of Liberal MP’s who are fighting this legislation tooth and nail. So, even if you’re not a Liberal voter, on this one issue let’s put aside our partisanship and ensure that we all work together to get the right result. 🙂

Update 4: After all this online pressure, GetUp! finally decided to post a response on Facebook. Apparently they “have been working hard behind the scenes in the last few months, lobbying politicians and continuing to campaign”. To date, I am unaware of ONE Coalition MP who has received ANY lobbying from GetUp! on this matter! I asked GetUp! provide the names/dates for any lobbying contact they have had. All $50,000 worth. I’m not holding my breath.

Update 5: I’ve been informed that GetUp! has in fact made some attempts to lobby both Minchin and Turnbull. Will follow up on those. Also, it would seem that GetUp! has decided to run some online ads in the next few days. The timing of this decision i’m suuure is completly coincidental to all the criticism they have received for doing, well, nothing for 6 or so months.

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14 Responses to “GetUp! Scamming Anti-Censorship Freedom Fighters”

  1. sonieee Says:

    Tell me more, tell me more! How can I help???

  2. Chris Says:

    yeah Tim if there is anything I can do let me know…I was interested when getup, a known left organisation, was campaigning against krudds filter…

    shame getup shame….

  3. Glenn Says:

    I can’t believe that I just donated $200 for nothing.

  4. Simon Shaw Says:

    They did do *some* adverts, just nowhere near $50,000 worth though.
    And they were limited to 1-2 sites.

  5. mick Says:

    GetUp was modelled as an Oz MoveOn… which is a Soros funded front group aint it? On the face of it, they’re doing a good job mopping up financial resources that oppose Labor policy – & moving it to supporting… other labor policies. Wouldn’t be the first time that type of stunt was pulled.

  6. Simon Shaw Says:

    I just rang GetUp.

    I asked to speak to somebody regarding where money donated is allocated to.

    The person answering immediately asked if that was to do with the internet censorship campaign, so they are obviously aware we’re unhappy.

    He said he would put me through to the Foundation Manager, but apparently his line was busy.

    I asked if he could help me with my questions, apparently they are sending out an email shortly to help explain what is happening.

    He also said part of the money went to paying for lobbyists, (he implied wages *maybe-thats the implication I got*).

    He said he was not the best person to answer my questions so I asked if the best person could please contact me and he said yes. I gave my name and number.

    The whole time I was speaking, the person sounded nervous.

    He also said emails in the last 2 days have not been replied to yet.

  7. Simon Shaw Says:

    OK, they rang me back.

    Apparently adverts were paused for a while over xmas due to it being the silly season and they are ramping up again now.

    The online ads have had around 3.5 million impressions so far apparently.

    There may be print media / TV adverts but that’s under discussion at the moment.

    An email will be sent out to subscribers in the next few days detailing status of the campaign.

  8. Tim Says:

    Simon,
    With the greatest possible respect, that’s complete crap. Without me even starting on when they began collecting money, the fact that they ran a few online ads on a few sites (which ended up being little more than ‘donate more money to GetUp!) ads, is pathetic.
    Similarly, their claims that they have been furiously lobbying behind the scenes is rather belayed by the fact that NOT ONE Liberal MP has spoken to them. And they are unable to provide any details on their contact with Labor/Greens jsut saying ‘trust us’.
    Is it any co incidence they plan to put something out only when this scam was uncovered? Please. The got caught and are trying to dig themselves out of it.

    All you need to remember is that for over 6 month we’ve been donating to them. Until their inaction was exposed, they did NOTHING.

  9. Paul Bentworth Says:

    I just rang GetUp and the office of Nick Minchin.

    Looks like they have been lobbying and quite successfully.

    Let’s see where this goes. I’m still waiting for more information but it does sound like we’ve been jumping to conclusions here.

  10. Richary Says:

    Yes I was one of the silly ones who donated to Getup on this issue. I have asked a couple of times what happened to the money with no response. Seeing as I donated through Visa I will be contacting them for a refund (which could be painful in itself). But if anyone wants to start a class action against them for misuse of funds I will be in.

  11. JaketheMuss Says:

    Wait wait wait, people here have actually been donating to GetUp?

    Wow!

  12. Ben Raue Says:

    Tim, I understand the instinct for right-wingers who are opposed to the net filter to be concerned about a left-wing group like GetUp taking the lead and getting the donations, but you haven’t shown a single shred of evidence that GetUp has done anything improper with the money they’ve been given.

    For a start, I know that they have been lobbying various politicians on this issue. As Paul says, apparently they’ve been talking to Nick Minchin’s office. I know that GetUp talk to the Liberals on climate, so I’m sure they would be talking to them about a filter, an issue where they are much closer. And considering that the Greens and the Liberals seem fairly solidly opposed to the filter, it makes sense they would focus most on the one party that actually is in government and is still supportive – the ALP.

    Secondly, do you have any evidence about how many online ads have been bought? Or just anecdotal evidence that you haven’t seen many of them? Maybe they are targetted to people living in Australia? I don’t really understand online ads, but I know that when I go to an overseas website I still usually get ads targeted at Australians, so it’s entirely plausible that GetUp ads aren’t targetted at people surfing the net from northern Virginia.

    Thirdly, even if they haven’t bought $45,000 worth of ads, that doesn’t mean they won’t. It’s only mid-February, Parliament has only just started for the year and the campaign has a long way to run.

    So, I ask the question, where’s the evidence of this supposed scam?

  13. Simon Mahoney Says:

    Online ads or not, they’re pointless. Everyone online knows about it, it’s been top articled in every news site in Australia for the past six to eight months. I’m another sap who dropped $100 on an issue I thought was serious, then I went to the DLC rally and realised GetUp! didn’t follow through with their backing other than a measley link mentioning the direct action.

    These guys are the guys who started the action off back in November, and they’ve got their shit together. They’ve released the finalised date for their next national call to action as the 21st, and I’ll definitely be going. In the meantime for everyone out there who wants to put their hard earned cash into the group that’s been beating the street while we’ve been blogging and bitching, do what I did and peg $100 at: –

    http://www.dlc.asn.au/donate.html

    I’m also looking to volunteer to help out on the day, so if anyone here has any contacts within the DLC rather than wasting their organisers time or spamming their volunteer section, could I get an introduction?

  14. Simon Mahoney Says:

    Actually, just thinking a bit more about it, they haven’t mentioned anything about online stuff in their mass spam they send me for ages except that one time that the DLC were in Rolling Stone and were cited as being the ‘last hope’ for Australians to dodge this crap filter. It seems what they talk about depends on what’s in the news at the time. Either way, they are too thinly spread out and focus on too many issues compared to single minded groups out there that want to get this filter gone.

    As for their lobbying, I’ve been a GetUp! member since they began and tbh they’re useless as tits on a bull. “WE PROTESTED IRAQ”, cool story bro, we’re still at war in Iraq. “WE BROUGHT HICKS HOME”, no, you didn’t, the US government sent him home and ignored yout he entire time. Seriously ineffective, also, note their fine print; they’re not a non profit group or an association like DLC and others, they’re registered as a company and are a registered political group. That speaks volumes. Who trusts pollies? They are the reason we’re in this mess!

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