Take Back Our Voter Data

by David Carroll

Take Back Our Voter Data

by David Carroll
David Carroll
Professor David Carroll from Parsons School of Design at The New School in New York was the first US citizen to receive and publish his Cambridge Analytica voter file from the 2016 election.
13
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£21,432
pledged of £25,000 target by 397 people
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David Carroll
Professor David Carroll from Parsons School of Design at The New School in New York was the first US citizen to receive and publish his Cambridge Analytica voter file from the 2016 election.
Pledge now

Your card will only be charged if the case meets its target of £25,000 by Oct. 30, 2017, 7 p.m. ET

We've raised our first £15,000 thanks to you.

Oct. 4, 2017

Thank you to all the early backers! We're making this happen.

Now that we've collected our first £15,000, let's further clarify the purpose of our crowdfunding.

How will the crowd-funded money be used?

We are raising money primarily to protect the Claimants from adverse costs if we lose. In other words, the people bringing forth this challenge are doing so at their own personal r...

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We are concerned that our data has been and is still being used to manipulate our democracy, without our knowledge or consent. We intend to find out how this happened, what was done with our data and hold the companies to account. 

Who am I 

I am David Carroll, a professor at The New School in New York. I, and a group of concerned citizens from around the world, are taking a case to try to get our personal data back from the company, SCL Group Ltd, the parent of Cambridge Analytica – and ensure that companies are held to account for using our information. I am bringing this case on behalf of the group and all concerned citizens. I encourage everyone to request their data and join the fight by donating to the campaign. 

The case

It appears that companies like Cambridge Analytica hold extremely personal data on the vast majority of registered voters in the US, as well as voters in every country where they operate. To paraphrase their own advertising, they know you better than you know yourself. And that knowledge can be used in ways we are only beginning to understand. The power of the use of political information cannot be overstated – and recent reports suggest that such data was used to influence political movements such as the Trump election and allegedly the Brexit vote. 

When I requested my data from Cambridge Analytica, and received a reply from their registered data controller, SCL Elections in London, I discovered the depth of accurate information they held about me, including modelling my political beliefs, was profound. Even then, we still do not know the full extent of that data, where it came from or who it was given to.

The way that data is used by such companies is opaque, and can influence every part of your life and even the way the world moves around you.  From what ads you see, to your credit reporting profile and from the way elections work to the foreign entities that can exploit your most sensitive personal data.

However, in some countries, like the UK, there are rules that protect the use of your data. That’s why we are going to the UK courts.  

We are fighting for a legal principle that, in an age of unlimited access to personal data, is fundamental: companies cannot use your data in any way they see fit. Your data is yours and you have a right to control its use.

Our fight involves three strategies and we are raising funds to:

  • Help individuals assert their rights by requesting their data from SCL;
  • Support the investigation being carried out by the UK Information Commissioner’s Office by preparing and referring individuals’ submissions; potentially support investigations being carried out in the US congress on election interference; 
  • Raising a legal defence fund. We need to protect individuals from risks of “adverse costs”. In the UK, if we are unsuccessful in the litigation, we have to pay the other side’s legal costs and we need to set up a sizable fund to ensure we are protected against such a large adversary.

Join us
You can be part of history. Donating is the most practical thing you can do to fight back.  We need to use the law to speak truth to power, and to create concrete legal frameworks so that our information is not quite so easily manipulated.

What we have done

With the help of a data scientist, Paul-Olivier Dehaye, a group of us requested our data from the company. That data was as shocking as it was illuminating. We encourage everyone interested to do the same; request your data and know what was held and said about you. 

With the help of our lawyers, we then wrote to the companies, asking them to delete our information and provide further disclosure. The responses were inadequate. We were left with little option than to go to Court. 

The legal team

We have hired one of the UK’s leading lawyers on data protection, Ravi Naik, to be our solicitor on the case. We have put together a team of the leading barristers in the country to support the claim, who together will present our case to Court. 

We believe that our prospects of success are good. 

Costs of the case

The case will take place in stages. Firstly, we will issue the claim in Court and lay out our “particulars of claim”. We will then serve this claim on the companies. 

We are looking to raise money to protect the Claimants from any “adverse” costs. We are seeking to raise £25,000 for this stage. If we hit this target, then we will seek to raise further funds as the case progresses. 

It is hard to know the exact costs involved as cases tend to change as the matter develops. We have therefore set a “stretch” target to help cover all eventualities and really take the fight to the companies. We are hoping to hit our stretch target to be in the best position possible moving forwards.

We have opted into CrowdJustice’s “tipping” option, so you can cover their fees on top of the donation you make.

Our legal team have been working for free to date. Most of the costs will be used as a defence fund, with a small amount allocated to our legal team, who have agreed to act on heavily discounted rates – and in fact, the majority of their work will be for free. 

Please help support our fight to take back control of our data; donate and support the campaign.

We've raised our first £15,000 thanks to you.

Oct. 4, 2017

Thank you to all the early backers! We're making this happen.

Now that we've collected our first £15,000, let's further clarify the purpose of our crowdfunding.

How will the crowd-funded money be used?

We are raising money primarily to protect the Claimants from adverse costs if we lose. In other words, the people bringing forth this challenge are doing so at their own personal risk. The crowdfunding protects them from the liability of losing in British courts, where claimants are liable for Defendant's legal costs if we lose.

CrowdJustice holds our funding until we need it. If we win, donations of over £1,000 are returned to the donor and otherwise donations are given to charity. 

Our solicitors are working on a “contingency” basis (or a CFA as they call it) and will be moving forward on that basis. The main goal of the funding is to cover for adverse costs of the Defendant in the event that we are unsuccessful. 

Are donations private and/or anonymous?

We don't have access to the identities of our backers. In that sense, your pledges are anonymized to us (but not to CrowdJustice and their payment processors, subject to their privacy policies). We can only see the first names provided publicly at pledge time. We will keep communicating with our beloved backers through CrowdJustice emails. 

How are things going?

We're making exciting progress getting the word out, gaining new pledges toward our goals. The Observer/Guardian article and sharing on Twitter are both generating a high conversion rate for our campaign. However, we have not yet tapped the potential of Facebook to promote our case, but in some ways, that's not a surprise given all the headlines lately.

Please help us get the campaign circulating among your friends and family on Facebook. Email 5 friends and ask them to pledge or match you, if you haven't already. 

Why do we pay in British pounds?

Our data is in the United Kingdom so we raise and fund in the local currency. I know. It's wild. Some US credit cards waive international exchange charges.

Please reassure any reluctant friends that their pledges are secure and protect the people taking on the risks for the cause. 

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