GOP-sponsored political consultancy firm left the personal data of nearly every U.S. voter online for everyone to see for 12 days. The analytics firm has contracts with the Republican National Committee and other Republican customers.
Data Dump Lingered Online in Full Public View
Cybersecurity experts noted that the data was available in a downloadable format for nearly two weeks. Voting history, home addresses, races, and even political views of America’s 200 million registered voters were exposed in the leak which was discovered accidentally by online security analysts.
The volume and details of the data underlined how far data mining technologies have gone. Modern political campaigns routinely resort to data mining experts to help them better shape their proposed policies and target the right audience.
The massive leak contained even info on voters that don’t trust the Big pharma industry and Wall Street bankers, or voters who voted for Hillary Clinton or are big supporters of Obamacare.
Jeffrey Chester at the Center for Digital Democracy noted that the Republican party is using data mining to create “political dossiers.” However, the most disturbing fact now is that these dossiers have been accidentally made public.
“These political data firms might as well be working for the Russians,”
The leaked data is the work of political consultancy firm Deep Root Analytics, whose experts get their info from the RNC’s voter lists along with “other sources.” Deep Root refused to say what those “other sources” may be, but those may include data brokers, online leaks, and social media.
Social Security Not Included in the Leak
The company’s analysis of the Americans’ voting habits is so accurate that it includes voting histories and enthusiasm for a specific candidate like Donald Trump. Some sub-files contained ratings of voters based on their views of 46 different topics from illegal immigration to commerce. Nearly 200 gigabytes of the leaked data were social media posts from Reddit.
Fortunately, the data dump did not include Social Security numbers and credit card data; but it did include names, birth dates, home addresses, and phone numbers.
“[With this data] I could give you the home address of every person the RNC believes voted for Trump,”
one of the experts that stumbled upon the data told reporters.
It is unclear if other people than the researchers at cybersecurity firm UpGuard, who discovered the leak on June 12 during a routine Internet scan, had access to the information. UpGuard investigators found the data was posted online without a password or any other means of protection.
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