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