Did Personal Data Aid Obama Campaign?

Carol Platt Liebau

7/6/2013 11:50:04 AM - Carol Platt Liebau

The IRS has been credibly accused of targeting conservatives as a way to minimize their participation in the 2014 elections.  But there is a mirror image to their suppression in the last cycle; the Obama campaign's utilization of Big Data to bring liberal partisans to the polls.

It was something that the press writing of admiringly both before and after the election, for example: 

Time: How Obama's number-crunchers helped him win

Businessweek: Google's Eric Schmidt Invests in Obama's Big-Data Brains

Other outlets have confessed to some trepidation:

Gizmodo: How the Obama Campaign Uses Your Personal Information to Get Your Money and Your Vote

In the aftermath of the kerfuffle about metadata being used for national security purposes, it's worth asking whether (and what kind of) personal information somehow found its way into the hands of political people for the President's political benefit -- because there is significant benefit to any political campaign that can "mine" such data.  Note that the companies involved in the NSA data-collection collection matter were huge Obama supporters.

Although some kinds of metadata collection is necessary for national security purposes, is there any assurance that personal information collected by these companies (and others) didn't find flow to the Obama campaign, either known or unbeknownst to the company's leaders?  Those who are outraged by personal information (or even metadata) being collected and used for national security without people's consent should be even angrier if intrusions occurred -- not for a public benefit -- but for the President's partisan gain.