When Voters Are Reduced to Numbers
Published at the Brennan Center
Sometime this month President Obama’s counselor, John Podesta, will deliver a report to the President on “Big Data.” The scope of the report is vast: how Big Data affects “the way we live and work” and “the relationship between government and citizens,” among other things.
Thus the White House begins its systematic look at “Big Data,” the stunningly enormous aggregation of bits and bytes about individuals that has grown exponentially during the information age.
In the months since Podesta launched the Big Data review—spurred in part by Edward Snowden’s revelations about the National Security Agency —a horde of industry, government, and public interest representatives have descended on the White House to have their say.
However, one group of Big Data users seem to have largely escaped attention. Yes, Google and Facebook have had their meeting with Obama.
But has Obama talked to Obama yet? Because he (and his campaign) have created one of the biggest data sets yet on the American voter. And how he, and indeed all politicians and political groups, use the data will have profound implications for the future of elections and our democracy….
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