Technology, Data and Elections: An Updated Checklist on the Election Cycle

Checklist by Privacy International: “In the last few years, electoral processes and related activities have undergone significant changes, driven by the development of digital technologies.

The use of personal data has redefined political campaigning and enabled the proliferation of political advertising tailor-made for audiences sharing specific characteristics or personalised to the individual. These new practices, combined with the platforms that enable them, create an environment that facilitate the manipulation of opinion and, in some cases, the exclusion of voters.

In parallel, governments are continuing to invest in modern infrastructure that is inherently data-intensive. Several states are turning to biometric voter registration and verification technologies ostensibly to curtail fraud and vote manipulation. This modernisation often results in the development of nationwide databases containing masses of personal, sensitive information, that require heightened safeguards and protection.

The number and nature of actors involved in the election process is also changing, and so are the relationships between electoral stakeholders. The introduction of new technologies, for example for purposes of voter registration and verification, often goes hand-in-hand with the involvement of private companies, a costly investment that is not without risk and requires robust safeguards to avoid abuse.

This new electoral landscape comes with many challenges that must be addressed in order to protect free and fair elections: a fact that is increasingly recognised by policymakers and regulatory bodies…(More)”.