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. The bill also seeks to give voters control over how that data is used in federal elections.
"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 statement. "This bill would help put an end to such actions."
During the 2016 presidential campaign, data consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica exploited the personal Facebook data of millions while working for Donald Trump's 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, as well as 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."
Facebook didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
Originally published Aug. 1.
Update, Aug. 2: Added note recording request for comment.