Political campaigns smartphone data brokers

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Political campaigns will be snooping on your phones in 2020

'We can put a pin on a building, and if you are in that building, we are going to get you'


Andrew Wyrich


Posted on Feb 20, 2019   Updated on May 20, 2021, 6:41 pm CDT

Political campaigns are using data gathered from phones to push advertisements to you, according to a new report.

The Los Angeles Times reports that data brokers are compiling information about people and selling it to political candidates trying to influence voters through advertisements.

The report describes how campaigns are using “digital fences” at in-person meetings where campaigns can push advertisements to people who attend the events. While campaigns claim they don’t match the information gathered to names of voters, they do send ads to people based on profiles, like where they shop or if they attended a town-hall event. There is also the potential to use “cross-device tracking” to find other devices, like laptops, that are associated with the phones.

Here’s how the LA Times described it:

As a result, if you have been to a political rally, a town hall, or just fit a demographic a campaign is after, chances are good your movements are being tracked with unnerving accuracy by data vendors on the payroll of campaigns. The information gathering can quickly invade even the most private of moments.

“We can put a pin on a building, and if you are in that building, we are going to get you,” a Democratic strategist told the newspaper.

As the 2020 presidential election draws nearer, digital privacy has come up more and more. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) called for a “guarantee” for net neutrality and brought up digital privacy in her announcement speech earlier this month.

You can read all of the Los Angeles Times report here.


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*First Published: Feb 20, 2019, 10:43 am CST