Big data and analytics have changed politics, with serious implications for the protection of personal privacy and for democracy. Political parties now hold large amounts of personal information about the individuals from whom they seek political contributions and, at election time, votes. This voter data is used for a variety of purposes, including voter contact and turnout, fundraising, honing of political messaging, and microtargeted communications designed specifically to appeal to small subsets of voters. Yet both privacy laws and election laws in Canada have failed to keep up with these developments in political campaigning and are in need of reform to protect voter privacy. We provide an overview of big data campaign practices, analyze the gaps in Canadian federal privacy and election law that enable such practices, and offer recommendations to amend federal laws to address the threats to voter privacy posed by big data campaigns.
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Osgoode Hall Law Journal