Online companies have been harvesting personal data for over a decade to, among other things, power their behavioral advertising machines. Companies holding such extensive and personal information about all of us has led to massive data breaches, putting our security at risk, and it has made possible the microtargeting phenomenon on social media — illustrated most acutely in the Cambridge Analytica/Facebook scandal — that threatens our democracies and electoral integrity.
Everything from our psychology (prone to anxiety and depression?) to our health (in need of fertility drugs?) to our behavior (second thoughts about your marriage?) to our sexual orientation (lean more gay than straight but haven’t come out yet?) to our demographic profile (47-year-old Afro-Brazilian in a soon-to-be gentrified zip code?) can be gleaned from our history online.
This data paints a robust — yet often inaccurate or marginalizing — picture of who we are. These profiles are sold to the highest bidder without our knowledge and used to determine what ads or other content we see. They can be leveraged to manipulate, prod, and condition us in ways that are extremely difficult to detect.
And yet, the United States is one of the world’s only democracies without a legal framework for preventing this kind of data collection and abuse. This has been an unacceptable failure to protect the fundamental rights of people both in the U.S. and around the world. Together, we can change that.
Join us in demanding that U.S. presidential candidates address how they will take a stand against corporate exploitation of our data in the upcoming Democratic presidential debates.