Freebie Day! RNC Genius Consultant Opens Up 198 Million Voters' Data To Everyone
Credit: Erik Hersman
June 19, 2017

Everything is fine. Never mind that a doofus data firm connected to the Republican party uploaded detailed information on nearly 200 million voters to an Amazon cloud account with no password protection.

Gizmodo reports the sad story of an almost one-terrabyte upload of detailed voter data, and not just the basics, either.

The data leak contains a wealth of personal information on roughly 61 percent of the US population. Along with home addresses, birthdates, and phone numbers, the records include advanced sentiment analyses used by political groups to predict where individual voters fall on hot-button issues such as gun ownership, stem cell research, and the right to abortion, as well as suspected religious affiliation and ethnicity. The data was amassed from a variety of sources—from the banned subreddit r/fatpeoplehate to American Crossroads, the super PAC co-founded by former White House strategist Karl Rove.

Deep Root Analytics, a conservative data firm that identifies audiences for political ads, confirmed ownership of the data to Gizmodo on Friday.

Yep, all that data fed to Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, and other social networks gets scraped and added to your profile so the RNC can microtarget you with ads and the Russians can send you some fake news.

Here are some more nuggets they put out there for anyone to find.

Spreadsheets acquired from TargetPoint, which partnered with Deep Root and GOP Data Trust during the 2016 election, include the home addresses, birthdates, and party affiliations of nearly 200 million registered voters in the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections, as well as some 2016 voters. TargetPoint’s data seeks to resolve questions about where individual voters stand on dozens of political issues. For example: Is the voter eco-friendly? Do they favor lowering taxes? Do they believe the Democrats should stand up to Trump? Do they agree with Trump’s “America First” economic stance? Pharmaceutical companies do great damage: Agree or Disagree?

The details of voters’ likely preferences for issues like stem cell research and gun control were likely drawn from a variety of sources according to a Democratic strategist who spoke with Gizmodo.

“Data like that would be a combination of polling data, real world data from door-knocking and phone-calling and other canvassing activities, coupled with modeling using the data we already have to extrapolate what the voters we don’t know about would think,” the strategist said. “The campaigns that do it right combine all the available data together to make the most robust model for every single voter in the target universe.”

Take a deep breath and relax, though. The company told Gizmodo they didn't believe any of the data had fallen into the hands of malicious third parties during the "12 days the data was available on the open web."

Besides the obvious lesson that sensitive (and expensive) data should be protected with a password, there is the larger issue of internet privacy and how your data is used not just for corporate marketing, but also political targeting. I highly recommend reading the entire Gizmodo piece if for no other reason than to see to what lengths the GOP went in order to build detailed voter profiles for targeting purposes. Nothing was sacred. Even bizarro subreddits were utilized.

Now that our Congressional overlords have freed up data at the ISP level and told the Big Providers it's just fine for them to sell that to anyone with the money to pay, expect the RNC to target all of us on one level or another. After all, they've got the billionaires and the will.

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