Bald­win calls for hear­ings on Cam­bridge An­a­lyt­ica data use, Rus­sian trolling

Wisconsin Gazette - - Front Page - By Lisa Neff Staff writer

U.S. Sen. Tammy Bald­win has called for a hear­ing on Rus­sian ac­tors ex­ploit­ing so­cial me­dia to spread po­lit­i­cal and so­cial un­rest in Wis­con­sin and other states dur­ing the 2016 elec­tion, as well as Cam­bridge An­a­lyt­ica’s use of mil­lions of Face­book users’ per­sonal in­for­ma­tion.

“I am trou­bled by these com­pa­nies’ fail­ure both to pro­tect their users’ data and to pre­vent their plat­forms from be­ing used to dis­sem­i­nate false in­for­ma­tion pushed by a for­eign power and de­signed to in­ter­fere with our elec­tions and un­der­mine our in­sti­tu­tions,” the Wis­con­sin Demo­crat and mem­ber of the Se­nate Com­merce Committee wrote to committee lead­er­ship on March 21. Days ear­lier, GOP lead­er­ship on Com­merce had asked Face­book and Cam­bridge An­a­lyt­ica for more in­for­ma­tion.

“The committee,” Bald­win con­tin­ued, “has an obli­ga­tion to as­sess the threat to con­sumers and their pri­vacy as they uti­lize so­cial me­dia plat­forms that have be­come cen­tral to ev­ery­day life and the ex­change of in­for­ma­tion and ideas.”

Bald­win, in her let­ter to Sens. Jim Thune and Bill Nel­son, re­ferred to re­ports that Rus­sian-linked Twit­ter ac­counts sought to spread racism and po­lit­i­cal at­tacks dur­ing the Au­gust 2016 civil un­rest fol­low­ing a po­lice-in­volved shoot­ing in Mil­wau­kee.

She also re­ferred to re­ports Cam­bridge An­a­lyt­ica ob­tained the pri­vate data of more than 50 mil­lion Face­book users in order to sell voter in­for­ma­tion to po­lit­i­cal cam­paigns.

The Fed­eral Trade Com­mis­sion is in­ves­ti­gat­ing and the at­tor­neys gen­eral for 37 U.S. states and ter­ri­to­ries de­manded de­tails on how Face­book mon­i­tored what app developers did with data col­lected from Face­book users and whether Face­book had safe­guards to pre­vent mis­use.

In re­lated news, Bald­win said Wis­con­sin will re­ceive about $7 mil­lion in fed­eral fund­ing to com­bat elec­tion in­ter­fer­ence with up­graded elec­tion tech­nol­ogy and im­proved cy­ber­se­cu­rity train­ing.

The fed­eral funds were to be avail­able im­me­di­ately.

“Rus­sia is a hostile for­eign power that di­rected an at­tack on our democ­racy that in­ter­fered with our 2016 elec­tions. Amer­i­can in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials have made it clear that for­eign ad­ver­saries are cur­rently work­ing to un­der­mine U.S. elec­tions,” Bald­win said. “This fed­eral fund­ing will help en­sure state and lo­cal elec­tion of­fi­cials have the in­for­ma­tion and re­sources they need to pro­tect our elec­tions from for­eign in­flu­ence.”

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