#Limbaugh Applauded #WiUnion Data Mining

Rush Limbaugh is gleeful about the use of data mining political adversaries, especially when it’s used to “out” and shame ordinary, everyday voters.

From November 2011, to January 2012, thousand of citizens in the state of Wisconsin signed petitions to recall anti-union Governor Scott Walker. In February 2012, the names and signatures of those petitioners were made public amid security fears. At the time, fears over misuse of the data were shrugged off for the most part.

By December 2012, however, those fears came to tangible fruition, when an unnamed, tech-savvy Republican took to the task of data mining the signatures and names of citizens who signed the petition. First, he set about finding out about tax liens and other tax delinquencies by mining public tax databases. Next, he compared names and signatures to the sex offender registry. Eventually, data was mined for thousand of individuals, matched to everything from parking tickets to unpaid child support.  Then he slapped it all up on a hate website called Put Wisconsin First and made it searchable, so anyone can view, target, and harass Scott Walker’s enemies.

The data mining project was apparently the first of its kind, but the GOP can now count voter intimidation among its successes.

Not satisfied with a hate-site filled with Wisconsin voters who didn’t like Scott Walker, the data mining project has expanded into a disturbing bot-army on Twitter.

There are now literally dozens of bots that spam names and “offenses” by signers of the Walker recall petition. Some of them are “parodies” of Twitter accounts that often use the #wiunion hashtags.

You can learn more about how this data is being used and spammed on social media here. Please take the time to flag the bots for spam and contact Twitter support to request they’re shut down.

Most of the 1000’s of people who signed the Walker recall petition were not activists. They were citizens that wanted change. It’s doubtful that most of them even have a Twitter accounts. However, this concentrated effort appears to be the beginning of the use of data mining for the purpose of voter intimidation.

It appears that the GOP’s misuse of public data has just gotten started. We could all end up on hate website in time for the 2014 election, if the organizations we belong to don’t protect our data.

Perhaps it’s time to take a look at who you’re giving your data to, and make sure they have an ironclad privacy policy when it comes to releasing your details to the public.

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