GOP-hired data company leaked information on 198 million citizens

GOP-hired data company leaked information on 198 million citizens”

The exposed information, which formed the backbone for Trump's data operation, includes home addresses, dates of birth, party affiliations, religious backgrounds, ethnic identities, public polling data, Reddit usage history, and more.

Political data gathered on more than 198 million US citizens was exposed this month after a marketing firm contracted by the Republican National Committee stored internal documents on a publicly accessible Amazon server.

Some of the records found in the leak appear to have been provided to Deep Root Analytics by Data Trust, a data warehouse developed by the Republican Party to act as its primary provider of voter records. The company sells and supplies voter data to political candidates, who rely on access to the data in order to shape their campaigns.

That such an enormous national database could be created and hosted online, missing even the simplest of protections against the data being publicly accessible, is troubling.

The information was described as "a treasure trove of political data and modeled preferences used by the Trump campaign", and the discovery offered a rare glimpse into the sophisticated voter targeting efforts used by the Trump camp during the White House race.

The leak has essentially exposed more than half of the US population, trouncing the second-largest leak of voter information, the 2016 exposure of 93.4 million Mexican voters. Those files included a rating system that showed a voter's likelihood to support a policy or candidate on a scale of "very unlikely" to "very likely".

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An email to TargetPoint prior to publication went unanswered.

Of course, Deep Root Analytics doesn't have to be hacked for that data to be stolen; it's sitting out in the open on a server. "Since this event has come to our attention, we have updated the access settings and put protocols in place to prevent further access". Vickery discovered and reported the server but it's unclear if he was the first to get to the data or if someone else may have had access first.

Vickery, who we profiled on ZDNet earlier this year, found 87 million Mexican voter records in an exposed database in 2016.

He was also responsible for discovering several USA voter databases online totaling 18 million voters, and the state of Louisiana's entire database of 2.9 million voters.

The RNC paid Deep Root more than $983,000 between January 2015 and November 2016, and paid another $4.2 million to TargetPoint.

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