Feinstein's new bill seeks to prevent another Cambridge Analytica – CNET


Following massive fines levied against Facebook for data misuse, a new bill in Congress aims to put the brakes on the exploitation of voter info.

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Sen. Dianne Feinstein on Wednesday introduced a bill prompted by Cambridge Analytica’s misuse of Facebook users’ private data. The Voter Privacy Act looks to address a lack of federal regulation on the collection and use of voter data by political organizations, giving voters control over how that data is used in federal elections. The move comes on the heels of a $100 million fine levied against Facebook by the Securities and Exchange Commission and a $5 billion fine from the Federal Trade Commission.

“Political candidates and campaigns shouldn’t be able to use private data to manipulate and mislead voters,” Feinstein, a Democrat from California, said in a release. “This bill would help put an end to such actions.” 

During the 2016 federal elections, data consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica exploited the personal Facebook data of millions while working for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Cambridge Analytica reportedly violated the social network’s policies when acquiring the data, then used it to target voters with political ads developed from psychographic profiles. 

Exempting data from public databases, the bill would extend five basic rights to voters. Among them are the right to be notified when campaigns obtain their data and to bar further sale, and the right to review data obtained by political organizations and demand its deletion. Voters would also be able to tell Google and Facebook not to use their data profiles to help political groups target them.

“Today, campaigns are legally able to conduct sophisticated online surveillance of everyone in our country in order to influence individuals based on their unique psychological characteristics” Feinstein said.  “This targeted manipulation not only undermines our democracy, it’s a threat to basic individual freedom.”

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