Analysen und Argumente

Hacking the Electorate

Thoughts on Misinformation and Personal Data Protection

Data-driven political campaigning is not a new phenomenon, but the tools, the amount of data accessible and thus the possibilities are. This is a challenging scenario for public institutions because the combination of misuse of personal data and misinformation techniques becomes a real threat to democracy. This paper gives examples of how political campaigns can act accordingly to the principles and main guidance of general data protection regulations.
  • In recent years political parties and campaigners around the world have invested heavily in online advertising, demonstrating all the potential to reach more people in an efficient, targeted and accessible way, sometimes for a fraction of the cost of more traditional methods.
  • Although data-driven political campaigning is not a new phenomenon, the tools used, the amount of data acces- sible and the potential capacity to influence voters repre- sent a new and challenging scenario for the rule of law.
  • Current practices of unauthorized personal data processing are boosting misinformation and ‘digital astroturfing strategies’, capable of influencing citi- zens with great precision.
  • Robust legal frameworks, such as the European general data protection regulations are applicable to political campaigning and can reduce the instru- mental use of personal data for unfair political manipulation.

The entire study is available as a PDF.

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Dr. Kristin Wesemann


Leiterin Strategie und Planung +49 30 26996-3803

Sophie Steybe

Referentin Publikationen +49 30 26996-3726