Clip: Look Who Profits When You Sign up to Vote

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Investigative journalist Julia Angwin, author of the new book Dragnet Nation, speaks to Bill in this clip about the ways in which the government and the private sector are compiling a personal profile of you. Did you know, for instance, that in some states your voting information can be sold to commercial data brokers?

Watch the 3-minute clip:

Through her research, Angwin discovered that over 200 data brokers had information on her, in one of the “least transparent” industries in America. Of those brokers, about a dozen would let her view her personal information (and when she did, she found some major inaccuracies, such as the names of previous employers) and less than half allowed her to opt out. Some sites even required her to submit her driver’s license number, social security information or pay a fee to complete the opt-out process.

“All kinds of companies are collecting my data. In the data broker business, there are people who sell my name and address and actual voting records and all that. Those people, there are the big ones who compile it all on the backend, like Acxiom and InfoGroup; then there are the ones you look for online with whoever’s Googled your stuff. You might see them show up, they’re selling your data — they are Spokeo, Intelius and all of those lookup sites. And they do a very big business in selling your data. And unfortunately, your data sells pretty cheap.”

Watch the entire episode with Julie Angwin »

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  • Tulsygal

    Your voting record does not give much info. It only has your name, address, DOB and how often you vote. It does not even have gender information.

  • Anonymous

    That can vary by state, especially those under the Voting Rights Act. For example, in SC, your records also list race, phone, others at your same address, marital status, survey responses, and which specific elections (i.e., party primaries) in which you vote. Technically, campaigns et al can determine most applicable supporters by those demographic factors and voting preferences, and from that data acquire listings of voters they wish to contact.

  • Anonymous

    I’d like to know who sells my data to the terrorist telemarketing companies and why they can get away with keeping their locations private so that I can’t sue them. Sen. Schumer has a bill in progress to stiffen the fines, but it’s only as good as being able to find the offenders. The phone companies allowing these companies their spoofing and misuse of communications should also be held liable.

    Years back, NYS sold our license info and my info was hijacked. I had a tough time getting my registration when I went to renew.

  • Samantha Atkins

    Huh? Since when is it recorded anywhere how you personally voted in any election?

  • Arm of Keaau

    In every election you’ve chosen to vote whether local or federal. (_: FBI

  • RocktheTripod

    I try to be positive, I really do. But reality seems determined to drag me back into the morass.

  • Catherine

    In the early 70s my mother went to city hall for a list of names and addresses of all the people in our voting district and was mistakenly given a complete list of the names, addresses, phone numbers and who they voted for in the presidential election.

  • GregoryC

    If the government cared about prosecuting financial fraud (they don’t, duopoly politicians serve Wall Street, multinational corporations) why couldn’t they use the data banks, NSA surveillance to compile the required data to prosecute? Instead of the lame excuse they can’t prove intent.

  • Anonymous

    You’re making too much sense and because of that, the NSA’s tracking of you will now be increased.

  • Anonymous

    There’s nowhere to hide anymore.