The database includes names, addresses, birth dates, party
affiliations, phone numbers and emails of voters in all 50 U.S.
states and Washington, researcher Chris Vickery said in a phone
Vickery, a tech support specialist from Austin, Texas, said he found
the information while looking for information exposed on the Web in
a bid to raise awareness of data leaks.
Vickery said he could not tell whether others had accessed the voter
database, which took about a day to download.
While voter data is typically considered public information, it
would be time-consuming and expensive to gather a database of all
American voters. A trove of all U.S. voter data could be valuable to
criminals looking for lists of large numbers of targets for a
variety of fraud schemes.
"The alarming part is that the information is so concentrated,"
Vickery said he has not been able to identify who controls the
database, but that he is working with U.S. federal authorities to
find the owner so they can remove it from public view. He declined
to identify the agencies.
A representative with the Federal Bureau of Investigation declined
A representative with the U.S. Federal Elections Commission, which
regulates campaign financing, said the agency does not have
jurisdiction over protecting voter records.
Regulations on protecting voter data vary from state to state, with
many states imposing no restrictions. California, for example,
requires that voter data be used for political purposes only and not
be available to persons outside of the United States.
advocates said Vickery's findings were troubling.
[to top of second column]
"Privacy regulations are required so a person’s political
information can be kept private and safe,” said Jeff Chester,
executive director of the Washington-based Center for Digital
Democracy. The leak was first reported by CSO Online and
Databreaches.net, computer and privacy news sites that Vickery said
helped him attempt to locate the database's owner.
CSO Online said the exposed information may have originally come
from campaign software provider NationBuilder because the leak
included data codes similar to those used by that firm.
In a statement, NationBuilder Chief Executive Officer Jim Gilliam
said the database was not created by the Los Angeles-based company,
but that some of its information may have come from data it freely
supplies to political campaigns.
"From what we've seen, the voter information included is already
publicly available from each state government, so no new or private
information was released in this database," Gilliam said.
(This story has been refiled to correct penultimate paragraph to
remove extraneous word "his")
(Reporting by Jim Finkle and Dustin Volz; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)
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