Efforts to drive primary voters to caucus sites or voting locations are in sprint mode, as we close in on the first primaries. The huge sets of voter data, ranging from email addresses to physical addresses and political affiliation, are of enormous value.
It is no coincidence that there has been increased scrutiny over privacy policies that rule the dissemination of campaign data. Data integrations have been central to creating voter profiles and integral to the programmatic targeting effort borrowed from commercial advertising.
In September 2015, the Online Trust Alliance took a look at the privacy policies for 23 presidential candidates, many of whom have already dropped out of the race.
Of those still around, the results of the study highlight troubling policies when it comes to protecting voter data.
This includes phone numbers and addresses, but also more personal and potentially dangerous data, like passport numbers. Additionally, the privacy policies that reserve the right to share or sell data could be shared outside of the immediate campaign landscape to third parties, though selling them for commercial use is prohibited by law.
Americans seem to have no problem giving personal data to companies like Facebook, Google and Apple.
Companies like Google are so obsessed with privacy that visitors to their offices have to destroy their guest passes when they leave and are accompanied to the restrooms by a Google employee.
Political campaigns mostly fall on the other side of the spectrum. The laws that might force a Facebook or Google into a Congressional hearing on data breaches do not apply to political campaigns.
Professor Michael Zimmer of the University of Wisconsin, who specializes in Internet ethics and privacy issues, told The Guardian: “It’s one thing for a marketer to try to predict if people like Coke or Pepsi, but it’s another thing for them to predict things that are much more central to our identity. What’s more personal than how I interact with the world in terms of social and cultural issues.”