Proposed Bill Would Enable Opting Out Of Political Campaign Targeting

A bill proposed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California) would allow consumers to wield more power over how their data is used by political campaigns.

The “Voter Privacy Act of 2019,” introduced this week, would require political campaigns to notify consumers if their personal data is obtained, and delete that data on request. The measure also empowers consumers to tell web companies that facilitate ad targeting to refrain from sharing personal data with political campaigns.

The measure's broad definition of personal data includes email addresses, IP addresses, geolocation data, web-browsing activity and online search history.

“Political candidates and campaigns shouldn’t be able to use private data to manipulate and mislead voters,” Feinstein stated this week.



The proposed bill comes more than a year after revelations surfaced that political consultancy Cambridge Analytica obtained personal data of as many as 87 million Facebook users.

Cambridge Analytica, now defunct, worked on the 2016 presidential campaigns of Donald Trump and, before him, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

The bill refers to Cambridge Analytica, as well as to a host of research into online political ads. Among other reports, the bill references NYU professor Ira Rubinstein's 2014 study, “Voter Privacy in the Age of Big Data,” which detailed political campaigns' large-scale use of data.

Rubinstein specifically reported that that political databases have amassed information on almost 200 million eligible voters.

The proposed bill would task the Federal Election Commission with enforcement.

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