Sunday, February 26, 2017

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The information gathered about us by the internet giants makes our political system vulnerable to new forms of manipulation

The Observer’s discovery that a secretive firm apparently bankrolled by a rightwing billionaire was at work in the Brexit referendum to sway voters selected on the basis of their Facebook profiles highlights the way in which the erosion of privacy can lead to an erosion of democracy – and will inevitably do so without firm, clear, principled action by governments and courts.

The same firm, Cambridge Analytica, has also been credited with helping the Trump campaign in a similar way, although this is disputed by some observers. Even if we can’t know how effective such campaigns have been, they will spread so long as any political organisation suspects that its opponents might gain an advantage from them.

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