Democracy

09 May 2020
Under the country's emergency laws, on May 4 the Hungarian government announced it would suspend parts of GDPR and exempted authorities from key provisions such as subject access rights, the right to request erasures, and providing notice that personal information is being collected and stored as
09 May 2020
The Egyptian president, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, has approved 18 amendments to the country's emergency law that allow him and security agencies additional powers. Only five of the amendments are clearly related to public health. Along with closing schools and universities, quarantining people
16 Mar 2020
Peru has suspended constitutional rights such as freedom of movement and assembly, although the government has guaranteed the operation of supermarkets, pharmacies, banks, basic services, and the transportation of merchandise. Source: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-latam
A study published in February 2019 found that 95% of the predictive accuracy for an individual can be achieved solely by analysing their social ties; the person's data is not needed. Given as few as eight or nine of an individual's contacts, it should be possible to profile the individual even if
In December 2018, Facebook provided an update on the civil rights audit it asked civil rights leader Laura Murphy to undertake in May. Based on advice Murphy culled from 90 civil society organisations, Facebook said it had expanded its policy prohibiting voter suppression, updated its policy to ban
17 Aug 2018
US Immigrations & Customs Enforcement (ICE) used social media monitoring to track groups and people in New York City associated with public events opposing the Trump administration’s policies, including ones related to immigration and gun control. The investigative branch of ICE created and
29 Apr 2019
A private intelligence company, LookingGlass Cyber Solutions, used social media to monitor more than 600 “Family Separation Day Protests” held across the United States on June 30, 2018, to oppose the Trump administration’s policy family separation policy. The policy was part of a “zero tolerance”
03 Jun 2019
Bahrain has warned its citizens and residents could face legal action simply for following social media accounts it deems anti-government, which raises concerns about the ability of Bahraini citizens and residents to exercise their fundamental rights and freedoms. In May 2019, a state terrorism law
18 May 2019
As a part of Facebook’s efforts to curb disinformation and misinformation on its platform, the company introduced new rules over how political content is marked. This has resulted in content that is educational, news articles, and otherwise seemingly non-political being marked incorrectly and taken
10 Apr 2019
In an effort to improve political advertising transparency, Canada drafted a Bill that requires companies to develop ad libraries, to which ads are added immediately in order for researchers, journalists, and other people to be able to search and understand how political actors are targeting ads. In
17 May 2019
Political ads on Facebook are meant to be marked with a disclaimer that says who paid for the ad, as well as be archived into the platform’s ad library, where users are able to see more information about how an ad was targeted. It’s important to note that the ‘who paid for the ad’ requirement is
30 Apr 2019
The New York Times picked 16 categories (like registered Democrats or people trying to lose weight) and targeted ads at people in them. They used the ads to reveal the invisible information itself, noting that it is a "story of how our information is used not just to target us but to manipulate
29 Sep 2017
In the lead up to the 2017 German federal election (Bundestagswahl), all political parties used social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and e-mails as platforms to reach voters. The far-right Alternative for Germany party (AfD) reportedly hired a Texas-based company for their
02 Apr 2018
The Sunday edition of the national newspaper Bild reported that Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) party and the centre-right Free Democrats (FDP) party purchased "more than a billion" pieces of personal data about potential voters from a subsidiary of Deutsche Post
20 Dec 2017
According to research conducted by Ronan Chardonneau, a French associate professor of digital marketing at Angers University, none of the websites of the eleven candidates' in the 2017 French presidential elections, that he looked into respected CNIL's directives regarding information that should be
21 Nov 2017
Before and after the Italian election on 4 March 2018, concerns were raised about the spread of misinformation, disinformation and inflammatory content through a network of news sites and Facebook pages. In November 2017, in the run up to the election, Buzzfeed reported on links between a large
04 Apr 2019
The Five Star Movement, a populist party, which is currently in power along with the League in Italy initially grew out of Il Blog delle Stelle (formerly Beppe Grillo’s blog). The Five Star Movement was founded by comedian Beppe Grillo, along with Gianroberto Casaleggio, a web strategist in 2009. As
20 Dec 2017
A company called Liegey Muller Pons (LMP) offers data analysis tools to help candidates and political parties improve their political campaign strategy. The three founders of the company were member's of former President François Hollande's 2012 campaign team. LMP was then hired by current President
20 Dec 2017
NationBuilder is an American political campaigning software company, which offers a fully integrated suite of tools for the organization of a campaign, and outreach through e-mail, telephone, social media, and traditional door-to-door campaigning. Many candidates in the 2017 French presidential
20 Dec 2017
During the primary elections in November 2016, the former French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, reportedly used an app, called Knockin, that made it possible to identify and geolocate supporters for door-to-door campaigning. Based on a report by the French Radio RMC, the app would harvest public data
18 Feb 2019
In February 2019, with a general election expected in May, the Australian government revealed that Australia's main political parties had been hacked by a "sophisticated state actor". The Australian Cyber Security Centre uncovered the hack while investigating a just-revealed hack of the Australian
27 Jan 2019
In January 2019, the British transparency NGO WhoTargetsMe, Mozilla, and the US investigative journalism site Pro Publica reported that recent changes in the social network's code were restricting their ability to monitor political ads on Facebook. The company said the changes were part of a
13 Dec 2018
In December 2018 reports emerged that the Indian Electoral Commission would propose amendments to the Representation of the People Act 1951 that would require citizens to link their Electoral Photo ID Card to their Aadhaar number with the stated goal of improving the accuracy of the electoral rolls
09 Jan 2019
On January 9, 2019 the UK Information Commissioner's Office fined SCL Elections, also known as Cambridge Analytica, £15,000 for failure to comply with an enforcement notice the ICO issued in May 2018 ordering the company to respond in full to a subject access request submitted by US-based academic
16 Jan 2019
In January 2019, Facebook announced it would extend some of the rules and transparency tools it developed for political advertising for upcoming spring elections in Nigeria, Ukraine, India, and the EU. In Nigeria, the site will bar electoral ads from advertisers outside the country where the
14 Jan 2019
Despite Facebook's October 2018 rules intended to provide greater transparency about political ads, the sources of funding for UK political ads remained obscure in early 2019. when a network of hard-Brexit and people's vote campaigning groups spent more than £1 million on Facebook ads in the lead-up
27 Apr 2017
In a November 2017 report, Facebook's security group outlined the steps it would take to combat new forms of misuse of the platform, including attempts to deceive people and manipulate civic discourse at low cost or risk to the organisers. Among the drivers, the group cited the global reach Facebook
05 Nov 2018
The results of a year-long review issued by the UK Information Commissioner's Office in November 2018 uncovered a "disturbing disregard for voters' personal privacy" on the part of 30 organisations, including social media platforms, political parties, data brokers, and credit reference agencies
05 Nov 2018
During the November 2018 US midterm elections, Moveon conducted an experiment to test whether it could cheaply and quickly maximise the effectiveness of digital persuasion. The project created a Facebook app called MO Research, and recruited people to answer survey questions about current issues via
17 Dec 2018
A December 2018 analysis of the use of Facebook by Matteo Salvini and Luigi Di Maio, Italy's two populist leaders, showed that the two exploited Facebook's streaming video and live broadcast services to bypass the mainstream media and foment discord during the March 2018 Italian general election
10 Oct 2015
In 2019, a prominent page on the Facebook Business site cited the British Conservative Party as a "success story" at the 2015 general election, which put the party into power with a narrow majority. The site boasted that via Facebook the Conservatives had an 80.6% reach in key constituencies, 3.5
27 Dec 2018
In 2014, when the the far-right party of French politician Marine Le Pen needed cash, the loan of €9.4 million came from First Czech-Russian Bank, which was founded in the early 2000s as a joint venture between a Czech state bank and a Russian lender and went on to come under the personal ownership
18 Nov 2018
As part of the digital campaign to win re-election, in mid-2018 the BJP, which controls the Indian national government as well as that of the state of Chhattisbarh, handed out $71 million worth of free phones and subsidised data plans to 2.9 million of the state's voters and then used the phones to
18 Dec 2018
A December 2018 report prepared by the Oxford Internet Institute's Computational propaganda Research Project and the network analysis firm Graphika for the US Senate Intelligence Committee found that the campaign conducted by Russia's Internet Research Agency during the 2016 US presidential election
22 Nov 2018
In November 2018, the Spanish senate approved 220-21 an online data protection law intended to ensure compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation with an added amendment that allowed political parties to use personal data obtained from web pages and other publicly accessible sources for
22 Nov 2018
In the run-up to the May 2019 European Parliament elections, Google announced it would launch a new set of transparency tools to combat voter manipulation. Before being allowed to buy advertising on Google platforms, campaigns will be required to verify their identity, and approved ads will be
21 Nov 2018
A 2018 study found that Twitter bots played a disproportionate role in spreading the false claim, made by US President Donald Trump shortly after winning the election but losing the popular vote in November 2016, that 3 million illegal immigrants had voted for Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton
02 Nov 2018
Facebook's latest tool for inspecting political ads showed that in the run-up to the US mid-term elections in November 2018, many of the same politicians who had been questioning Facebook about privacy and leaked user data were spending campaign funds on advertisements on the service. Between 2014
03 Nov 2018
In November 2018, the UK government announced that 11 local authorities across England would participate in Voter ID pilots in the interest of gaining "further insight into how best to ensure the security of the voting process and reduce the risk of voter fraud". Five local authorities participated
29 Sep 2018
A flaw in the official 2018 UK Conservative Party conference app granted both read and write access to the private data of senior party members, including cabinet ministers, to anyone who logged in by second-guessing the email address they used to sign into the app. Twitter users claimed that one
23 Jul 2018
"Buzzer teams" - teams employed to amplify messages and create a buzz on social media - were used by all candidates in the 2017 Indonesian general elections. Coordinated via WhatsApp groups, many of the teams opened fake accounts to spread both positive and negative messages, as well as hate speech
13 Jul 2018
In July 2018, Robert Mueller, the special prosecutor appointed to look into Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election, charged 12 Russian intelligence officers with hacking Hillary Clinton's campaign and the Democratic National Committee by spearphishing staffers. The charges include
06 Jul 2018
The Tel-Aviv-based private intelligence firm Black Cube, which is largely staffed by former Israeli intelligence operatives, was involved in a campaign to attack NGOs and businessman-turned-philanthropist George Soros during Hungary's election campaign. Between December 2017 and March 2018, agents
29 Jun 2018
On the night of June 23, 2016, as the polls closed Britain's Sky News broadcast what sounded like a concession statement from Nigel Farage, the leader of the campaign to leave the EU, plus a YouGov exit poll indicating that the country had voted to remain; over an hour later, Farage reiterated his
12 May 2018
Facebook ads purchased in May 2016 by the Internet Research Agency, a notorious Russian troll farm, urged users to install the FaceMusic app. When installed, this Chrome extension gained wide access to the users' Facebook accounts and web browsing behaviour; in some cases it messaged all the user's
10 May 2018
In May 2018, a report form Strathmore University's Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Technology (CIPIT) found that some staff at Kenya's Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission who were mandated to protect voter data made millions of Kenyan shillings by illegally selling
29 Mar 2018
In March 2018, Indian Congress president Rahul Gandhi tweeted that the Naramendra Modi app issued by India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party was leaking user data. The app is intended to spearhead BJP's social media strategy in the run-up to the 2019 general elections; the party hopes to use it to
05 Nov 2018
In November 2018, the UK government announced it would pilot voter ID for in 11 local authorities during thte 2019 local elections in order to gain insight into ensuring voting security and lowering the risk of voter fraud. The Cabinet Office deemed the pilots conducted in five local authorities
22 Aug 2018
In August 2018, the US Democratic National Committee notified the FBI that the San Francisco-based security company Lookout and the cloud service provider DigitalOcean had detected an attempted hack targeted at the DNC voter database. The attack took the form of a fake DNC login page intended to
05 Nov 2018
Shortly before the 2018 US midterm elections, Georgia secretary of state and gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp accused Georgia's Democratic Party of hacking into the state's voter registration database, though without providing any evidence to support the claim. The motives behind the claim were
17 Nov 2018
With only days to go before the 2018 US midterm elections, a federal judge ruled that the state of Georgia must change its "exact match" law that required voter registrations with even the tiniest variation from other official identifications to be flagged as potential non-citizens unless they could
08 Mar 2018
A 2018 study of the use of biometric technology for voter identification and verification in Ghana in 2012 called the effort a failure. It's not enough, the researchers argue, for biometrics to be technically sound; for the technology to function as intended registration centres must have real-time
09 Aug 2018
In 2018, the UK Information Commissioner's Office fined Emma's Diary, a site offering pregnancy and childcare advice owned by Lifecycle Marketing (Mother and Baby) Ltd, £140,000 for collecting and selling personal information belonging to more than 1 million people without disclosing in the site's
15 Oct 2018
A database compiled through investigations conducted in 2018 by the Guardian and the Undercover Research Group network of activists shows that undercover police officers spied on 124 left-wing activist groups between 1970 and 2007. The police infiltrated 24 officers over that time within the
05 Aug 2018
Under a clause in the country's computer crime act that criminalises uploading content that is false or causes "panic", in 2018, Thailand's ruling military junta pursued a criminal investigation into a live feed on the Facebook page belonging to the rising Future Forward Party. The postings claimed
15 Sep 2018
In September 2018, when Massachusetts state police tweeted a map of responses to fires and explosions during a gas emergency, they inadvertently revealed that they were closely monitoring several activist groups, including a Facebook group for Mass Action Against Police Brutality, the Coalition to
20 Sep 2018
In September 2018, Google warned a selection of US senators and their aides that their Gmail accounts were being targeted by foreign government hackers. Google has issued warnings of phishing attempts by state-sponsored actors since 2012, though getting a notice does not mean the account has been
17 Jul 2018
In July 2018, Election Systems and Software (ES&S), long the top US manufacturer of voter machines, admitted in a letter to Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) that it had installed pcAnywhere remote access software and modems on a number of the election management systems it had sold between 2000 and 2006
26 Sep 2018
A combination of entrenched and litigious voting machine manufacturers with immense control over their proprietary software and a highly complex and fragmented voting infrastructure mean that even though concerns were raised as early as 2004 about the security of US voting machines, the 2018 midterm
25 Oct 2018
In the run-up to the November 2018 US midterm elections, Vice tested Facebook's new system of mandatory "Paid for" disclosure intended to bring greater transparency to the sources of ads relating to "issues of national importance". Placing political ads requires a valid ID and proof of residence
11 Oct 2018
In the run-up to the 2018 US mid-term elections, researchers found that the dissemination of fake news on Facebook was increasingly a domestic American phenomenon rather than, as in the 2016 presidential election, an effort driven by state-backed Russian operatives. Removing such accounts (Twitter)
01 May 2018
In 2018, after the UK Cabinet Office said a trial of compulsory voter ID was necessary because reports of voter fraud had more than doubled between the 2014 and 2016 elections - a claim immediately disputed by a voter and upheld by the UK Statistics Authority. While it was true that there were 21
13 Oct 2018
In the months leading up to the US 2018 midterm elections, Republican officials in Georgia, Texas, and North Carolina made moves they described as ensuring voting integrity but which critics saw as blocking voter access. In Georgia, where Secretary of State Brian Kemp is charged with enforcing
13 Oct 2018
A few months before the US 2018 midterm elections, the Trump campaign team signed a contract with the newly-formed Virginia-based company Excelsior Strategies to exploit the first-party data the campaign had collected. The contract was set up by Trump's campaign manager, Brad Parscale, who built the
01 Oct 2018
A little over a month before the US 2018 midterm elections, Twitter updated its rules to reduce manipulation of its platform. Among the changes, the company outlined the factors it would use to determine whether an account is fake and should be removed, provided an update on its automated detection
21 Sep 2018
In 2018 a report from the Royal United Services Institute found that UK police were testing automated facial recognition, crime location prediction, and decision-making systems but offering little transparency in evaluating them. An automated facial recognition system trialled by the South Wales
01 Nov 2018
Days before the US November 2018 midterm elections, ProPublica discovered that an organisation called Energy4US spent $20,000 to run ads on Facebook pushing conservatives to support the Trump administration's reversal of fuel emission standards. On closer scrutiny, Energy4US appeared to be a front
04 Sep 2018
In 2018, a group of researchers from the Campaign for Accountability posed as Russian trolls and were able to purchase divisive online ads and target them at Americans using Google's advertising platform. The researchers constructed fake profiles using the name and identifying details of the
15 Oct 2018
In October 2018, in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal and questions over Facebook's influence on the UK's EU referendum, Facebook announced it would add Britain to the US and Brazil on the list of countries where the company will no longer allow political groups to publish "dark" ads on
15 Oct 2018
In the run-up to the US 2018 mid-term elections, Facebook announced it would broaden the company's policies against voter suppression by banning misrepresentations about how to vote and whether a vote will be counted. The company also introduced a reporting option to allow users to report incorrect
04 Sep 2018
For many Filipinos, Facebook is their only way online because subsidies have kept it free to use on mobile phones since its launch in the country in 2013, while the open web is expensive to access. The social media network is believed to have been an important engine behind the ascent to the
01 Jan 2005
As early as 2005, Experian began suggesting that its Mosaic consumer classification system, used by retail chains to tailor their stock for local populations could be used by political parties for campaigning. Based on work by Richard Webber, a visiting professor at University College London, Mosaic
17 Mar 2018
In 2015, Facebook removed a feature that had been in place for some years that allowed developers to access information about Friends who had also signed up for their app. During that time, about 270,000 people downloaded and installed an app that was portrayed as part of an online personality quiz
01 Mar 2018
A data breach at the Internet Research Agency, the Russian troll farm at the centre of Russia's interference in the 2016 US presidential election, reveals that one way the IRA operated was to use identities stolen from Americans. Using these accounts and other fake ones, the troll farm interacted
17 Mar 2018
According to whistleblower Christopher Wylie, during the 2014 US midtern elections, Cambridge Analytica, needing data to complete the new products it had promised to political advisor Steve Bannon, harvested private information from the Facebook profiles of more than 50 million users without their
23 Feb 2018
A former Facebook insider explains to Wired Magazine why it's almost certain that the Trump campaign's skill using the site's internal advertising infrastructure was more important in the 2016 US presidential election than Russia's troll farm was. The first was the ads auction; the second a little
23 Oct 2017
After investigation, the UK's privacy regulatory, the Information Commissioner's Office has found that two small sections of the written scripts used by Blue Telecoms, a marketing firm that made calls on behalf of the Conservative Party during the 2017 general election, crossed the line from
28 Nov 2017
Facebook and Twitter have advised Damian Collins, the chair of the UK Parliament's digital, culture, media, and sport committee, that the companies will hand over some information relating to the rearch of Russia-backed posts during the EU referendum. Facebook has already given the US Senate similar
12 Feb 2016
Caucuses, which are used in some US states as a method of voting in presidential primaries, rely on voters indicating their support for a particulate candidate by travelling to the caucus location. In a 2016 Marketplace radio interview, Tom Phillips, the CEO of Dstillery, a big data intelligence
11 Dec 2015
In what proved to be the first of several years of scandals over the use of personal data in illegal, anti-democratic campaigning, in 2015 the Guardian discovered that Ted Cruz's campaign for the US presidency paid at least $750,000 that year to use tens of millions of profiles of Facebook users
11 Apr 2016
In March 2016, a hacker group identifying itself as Anonymous Philippines defaced the website of the Philippine Commission on the Elections (Comelec), leaving a message that accused Comelec of not doing enough to secure the voting machines due to be used in the general election the following month
07 Jul 2016
In 2016, supporters of Ted Cruz and Rand Paul for president were surprised to begin getting emails from the Trump campaign soon after their candidates dropped out of the race for the Republican nomination. In an investigation, CNNMoney found that nearly every failed 2016 presidential candidate sold