Personal Data of 200 Million Voters Has Been Leaked

Personal information for close to 200 million voters in the U.S. was exposed online accidently because of a security setting that had been improperly configured, said UpGuard an online security firm on Monday.

The information leaked was compiled by Deep Root Analytics a data firm and was that of Republican voters. Two other contractors hired by Republicans also had compiled the information for the GOP.

The information contained personal data such as names, addresses, birth dates, voter registration information and posts on social media.

A security analyst from UpGuard discovered the database online of more than 198 million Republican registered voters on June 12. On June 14, the data was secured.

Last year there were just over 200 million voters in the entire United States. Close to 1.1 terabytes of information was unsecure and available for downloading with no password protection.

The information leaked was called the DNA of voters by an online voting expert who added that it was data used to help determine the way a voter would likely vote relative to a specific issue.

Deep Root, through a prepared statement, said the personal data had been exposed on June 1 when the company updated its security settings. The company said it builds voter models that help to enhance the understanding of advertisers related to television viewership.

In another separate prepared statement the Republican National Committee stated that it stopped any additional work involving Deep Root until the conclusion of the investigation into their security procedures.

The statement added that while Deep Root confirmed the data accessed had not contained any proprietary information of the RNC, the committee believes the security of voter data is very important and requires its vendors to believe that same.

The database of Deep Root on an open storage server at Amazon highlights the long term effort by companies of stockpiling data about voters in the U.S.

The database has information dating back to the presidential campaigns from 2008 through to 2016. The files from 2016 were less comprehensive compared to those of previous years.

The data leaked included posts taken from Reddit. Text from the Reddit posts could be used to help train computers to recognize the language sentiment or watch subreddits to determine the sentiment of people related to different political issues.

A portion of the exposed data, such as voter registration, already is public record, but there are different methods of allowing access to that data in different states as well as rules on how that data can be used.