The Influence Industry: The Global Business of Using Your Data in Elections - Tactical Tech

>The idea for The Influence Industry started in March 2016, when by a stroke of luck I found myself sitting on a plane from Berlin to London next to the founder of a start-up. At the time, Tactical Tech was undertaking an investigation into the work of data brokers – those who trade in the data of millions of people at the national, regional and international level. We had been attending trade fairs and conducting anonymous interviews to try to better understand the ins and outs of the industry.1 The person sitting next to me on the plane was working on a Powerpoint presentation about selling data. I started a conversation and discovered that he was the proud CEO of a company buying, analysing and reselling mobile phone data. As someone who had clearly spent a lot of time thinking about the pitfalls and challenges of his company, I found him quite open to talking about his business model. In the process, he told me in passing that they had been approached by a major political party in Germany to see how the data profiles they held could be used to target key regions in future elections. This was striking to me for two reasons. First, just how important it was who was buying the data and for what reasons – something we had not really explored before. Second, if this was happening in Germany, a country widely regarded as having strict data-protection laws and a high regard for privacy, then what was happening elsewhere?

https://ourdataourselves.tacticaltech.org/posts/influence-industry/

The Influence Industry: The Global Business of Using Your Data in Elections
Alice Clearwater
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The idea for The Influence Industry started in March 2016, when by a stroke of luck I found myself sitting on a plane from Berlin to London next to the founder of a start-up. At the time, Tactical Tech was undertaking an investigation into the work of data brokers – those who trade in the data of millions of people at the national, regional and international level. We had been attending trade fairs and conducting anonymous interviews to try to better understand the ins and outs of the industry.1 The person sitting next to me on the plane was working on a Powerpoint presentation about selling data. I started a conversation and discovered that he was the proud CEO of a company buying, analysing and reselling mobile phone data. As someone who had clearly spent a lot of time thinking about the pitfalls and challenges of his company, I found him quite open to talking about his business model. In the process, he told me in passing that they had been approached by a major political party in Germany to see how the data profiles they held could be used to target key regions in future elections. This was striking to me for two reasons. First, just how important it was who was buying the data and for what reasons – something we had not really explored before. Second, if this was happening in Germany, a country widely regarded as having strict data-protection laws and a high regard for privacy, then what was happening elsewhere?

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