It's no secret political campaigns want your private info but what do they actually know about you?
How do they get it?
And is there anything you can do to stop them?
To find out where campaigns get their data, I reached out to CBS senior manager of elections Kabir Khan.
So let's break it down Kabir what data do modern political campaigns use and where does it come from?
So they have three streams of data.
One comes from voter files which are collected by state governments, whether or not you vote as a matter of public record.
State governments compile lists of all the voters who are registered in their state along with basic information about them, their age, their gender.
When did they register?
Many states will also list their party affiliation.
Many states also have data on race and ethnicity.
So those voter files really are the bread and butter of political campaigns and have been for decades.
The second source of data comes from commercial vendors or third parties.
So these are companies that basically collect other data on voters, often from consumer databases.
And these might include things like their home ownership status, or even what magazines they subscribe to or what kind of car they drive more and more.
These data are being augmented with people's social media.
So maybe their Twitter handles or their Facebook profiles and then the third.
Source of data that's really important to campaigns is data that they themselves collect.
So every time they send an email or knock on someone's door, or call a voter, not only are they.
Sending out their messages and maybe trying to get someone to vote.They're also collecting data on who's receptive to them, who's already planning to vote for them, who may be is undecided but could be persuaded to vote for them.
Maybe the campaign has an app So those are kind of the three major data streams if you will that campaigns use.
So collecting and analyzing voter info isn't just common.
It's big business data firms like morning console lt political and others have been advising political campaigns for a long time.
Time I caught up with Paul Wescott of Lt.
Political and he walked me through their interactive voter visualization map.
So going through how lt voter mapping works.
This is a voter visualization tool which allows you to see all of the voters in this case in the state of Florida.
When to zoom down here we'll go into the Miami Beach area, and just to show you how granular you can get, you can actually get down all the way to a household level, switch it over and you're actually able to see down to the To the individual household and these individuals, where people are where they live and, of course, a whole wealth of information about those individuals.
So a way a campaign might traditionally use this, as they'll say well, what I'd like to do is actually just be able to reach people within a very specific area, so they can highlight even just small block area.
From there, you could say, okay, I only want people and we'll just in this case, use party affiliation.
And we'll say we've got mostly Democrats in this neighborhood.
But let's say I just want the non partisans and Republicans you make those selections.
And just to show you how you can get hyper-targeted really quickly to be able to find those individuals.
So if you are a Republican or a nonpartisan running for office, this shows you how you're actually able to find those individuals in that targeted way.
From there you can go down and select and be able to find individuals with cell phones, find people by their income, their education level.
All of these different pieces of demographic information.
Okay, so the info that political campaigns or almost anyone can purchase about you is pretty substantial.
It's almost terrifying.
And it's important to point out here that most of that data comes from publicly available sources.
It represents just the baseline digital footprint you leave behind just by living in Voting in the US, but for the Trump and Biden campaigns collecting this public data is just one piece of the puzzle.
The info that both campaigns collect themselves from willing supporters.
Way more valuable.
We're in an area now where campaigns are using all that personal technology, all that personal insight about a voter to engage and activate them to increase the intensity, but with that cell phone number, you can unlock it.
A tremendous amount of information about actual voting behavior or buying behavior as opposed to what a voter says they want.
So it's safe to say that the campaign's have a lot of your personal info and if you've downloaded the campaign apps.
They probably have even more.
Both the Trump and Biden apps asked for access to your contacts and your phone number at a minimum.
So is there any reason to worry that our political data profiles are being kept for the long term?
It's not a perfect precise picture where they know everything about you and they know what you're going to do before you do.
That is not the world we live in right now.
Often what they have is kind of a rough guesstimate have details about you, your background, your political persuasion, and what you might do in the next election, but it's by no means perfect.
So I wouldn't freak out too much about the data campaigns are using So what do you think?
Does your personal data in the hands of political campaigns freak you out?
Or is this just the new normal?
Let us know what you think in the comments below and make sure you subscribe to CNET's YouTube channel to learn more about tech and politics.
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