US Voter Database Posted Unencryped, Online

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LaserGuy
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US Voter Database Posted Unencryped, Online

Postby LaserGuy » Sun Jan 03, 2016 7:10 am UTC

Surprised nobody has commented on this yet...

The personal information of ~191 million Americans, including names, birthdates, genders, party affiliations, phone numbers, etc. were apparently found in an unencrypted database online last week. The data includes information on voters dating back as far as 2000. The good news is that none of the information is high-value stuff--social security numbers--but it's still an absolutely massive amount of fairly low-level data that should be kept public. A few governments and the FBI have indicated that they're investigating, but I haven't been able to find a public statement from anybody about this.

You can read what is known, here.

leady
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Re: US Voter Database Posted Unencryped, Online

Postby leady » Sun Jan 03, 2016 12:46 pm UTC

Party affiliation disclosure is extremely high value and counted as sensitive in the EU / UK

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Re: US Voter Database Posted Unencryped, Online

Postby firechicago » Sun Jan 03, 2016 2:22 pm UTC

leady wrote:Party affiliation disclosure is extremely high value and counted as sensitive in the EU / UK

In the US, most states have a process of formal party registration (for the purposes of participation in primaries) and this is generally public information, along with the rest of the voter registration information (address, DoB, etc).

The thing that's not clear from any of the articles I've seen is how much data there is beyond the basic voter registration information, and how reliable it is.

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Re: US Voter Database Posted Unencryped, Online

Postby Chen » Mon Jan 04, 2016 1:01 pm UTC

The first link I found was for Florida (http://dos.myflorida.com/elections/for- ... ic-record/) but it does seem to say that the information that was mentioned in the OP is public information, at least in Florida. I have to imagine most states are like this, so is this "breach" really a big deal?

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Re: US Voter Database Posted Unencryped, Online

Postby KnightExemplar » Mon Jan 04, 2016 2:54 pm UTC

Chen wrote:The first link I found was for Florida (http://dos.myflorida.com/elections/for- ... ic-record/) but it does seem to say that the information that was mentioned in the OP is public information, at least in Florida. I have to imagine most states are like this, so is this "breach" really a big deal?


I think it may matter in some states, where the information is NOT public information. It might be a big deal in California, where the investigation is taking place.

In my state, it looks like it is relatively cheap to get all voter information information from the state government ($125), but you must sign a statement promising that you'll only use the information with regards to elections. So it would appear to be somewhat of an issue in my state, but not really.
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Tyndmyr
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Re: US Voter Database Posted Unencryped, Online

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Jan 04, 2016 3:49 pm UTC

leady wrote:Party affiliation disclosure is extremely high value and counted as sensitive in the EU / UK


That seems reasonable, if you're worried about coercion and such. Someone being registered to the "wrong" party is something I could easily envision as leading to discrimination, etc, and that probably shouldn't be the case. At least a SLIGHT bit of effort should be made to protect it.

leady
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Re: US Voter Database Posted Unencryped, Online

Postby leady » Mon Jan 04, 2016 3:56 pm UTC

of course with the UK not being a "free country" we do have some interesting anachronisms to a free society, I.e. that a registered member of the BNP is statutorily banned from the Police, Teaching (I assume others). The UK is only idealist until ideals cause problems :)

cphite
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Re: US Voter Database Posted Unencryped, Online

Postby cphite » Mon Jan 04, 2016 4:09 pm UTC

Deleting double post.
Last edited by cphite on Mon Jan 04, 2016 4:10 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: US Voter Database Posted Unencryped, Online

Postby cphite » Mon Jan 04, 2016 4:09 pm UTC

Chen wrote:The first link I found was for Florida (http://dos.myflorida.com/elections/for- ... ic-record/) but it does seem to say that the information that was mentioned in the OP is public information, at least in Florida. I have to imagine most states are like this, so is this "breach" really a big deal?


From a strictly personal security standpoint, the data of birth can be troublesome as it makes it easier to find additional information... for example, if someone has your date of birth and city you were born, it's easier to find your SSN. So having a huge list of names and birth dates could be a boon to someone with bad intentions. However, that being said, all of the identifying information they're talking about is stuff that someone can find out about you from publicly available information.

Party affiliation and voting record are valuable to the political parties in that they can use it to target you as a potential vote; but aside from some potential awkwardness it's not something that can be used to actually harm you.

In short, this breach is not in and of itself a big deal. It's a symptom of a much larger issue. It's large, but the information contained within is relatively harmless.

Tyndmyr
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Re: US Voter Database Posted Unencryped, Online

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Jan 04, 2016 4:24 pm UTC

cphite wrote:Party affiliation and voting record are valuable to the political parties in that they can use it to target you as a potential vote; but aside from some potential awkwardness it's not something that can be used to actually harm you.


Uh...isn't this exact problem why voting is anonymized? Because voting record HAS been used to harm people?

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Re: US Voter Database Posted Unencryped, Online

Postby cphite » Wed Jan 06, 2016 8:35 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:
cphite wrote:Party affiliation and voting record are valuable to the political parties in that they can use it to target you as a potential vote; but aside from some potential awkwardness it's not something that can be used to actually harm you.


Uh...isn't this exact problem why voting is anonymized? Because voting record HAS been used to harm people?


Historically there have been problems with retribution by political leaders, or discrimination... but mostly because there were inadequate laws to protect people from that sort of thing. I suppose it could still happen, but it seems less likely these days.

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ObsessoMom
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Re: US Voter Database Posted Unencryped, Online

Postby ObsessoMom » Wed Jan 06, 2016 10:08 pm UTC

Secret ballots are a big, big deal. Not having them invites intimidation and corruption.

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Djehutynakht
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Re: US Voter Database Posted Unencryped, Online

Postby Djehutynakht » Thu Jan 07, 2016 9:50 am UTC

If I recall correctly, everything here is public information.

I read somewhere that the problem is that, though this is all public info, it normally doesn't exist in such a centralized, readily-accessible format, which could be a problem.

cphite
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Re: US Voter Database Posted Unencryped, Online

Postby cphite » Thu Jan 07, 2016 4:14 pm UTC

ObsessoMom wrote:Secret ballots are a big, big deal. Not having them invites intimidation and corruption.


We have intimidation and corruption anyway.

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Zohar
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Re: US Voter Database Posted Unencryped, Online

Postby Zohar » Thu Jan 07, 2016 4:28 pm UTC

So we might as well make things worse?
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cphite
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Re: US Voter Database Posted Unencryped, Online

Postby cphite » Thu Jan 07, 2016 5:53 pm UTC

Zohar wrote:So we might as well make things worse?


The database has been taken offline, apparently.

And no, I'm not arguing that we should reveal the party affiliation, much less the voting records, of anyone; nor am I saying that we should not continue to insist on those things being private. I'm just saying that, in terms of actual personal damage that might occur as a result of this database having been out there, it's probably a non-issue for most people.

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Re: US Voter Database Posted Unencryped, Online

Postby firechicago » Thu Jan 07, 2016 10:33 pm UTC

Just to be clear, voting record could mean a lot of things in this context. One thing that the database almost certainly has is the record of which elections a voter has voted in. (I have worked with the Nationbuilder database this database was supposedly based on, and it definitely has this information). This is public information in most states, anyone willing to pay a modest fee can get this information.

The article claims that the database has records on who voters voted for, but I find this extremely unlikely, because as far as I know this information doesn't actually exist in any central repository. In every US jurisdiction I've lived in, you check in at the polling place, where you're checked off in the voter list, and then you're given a ballot, which you fill out and drop in the ballot box. There's nothing to link your check-in to your ballot, and reconstructing this information would involve many hours of work per election per polling place, (not to mention unfettered access to both the polling place and the ballot box).

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Re: US Voter Database Posted Unencryped, Online

Postby Djehutynakht » Fri Jan 08, 2016 2:22 am UTC

Yeah, recording which person voted for who should be impossible per polling procedures (at least so far as I know). I suppose it is possible... but it would also be very, very illegal and I highly doubt anyone short of a huge secret conspiracy could pull it off on a nationwide scale.

That being said, I've heard that there are methods by which you derive how each person likely voted, using available date and patterns and other such things.


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