On June 12, 2017, media outlets in the U.S. began reporting the news that information on over 200 million registered voters was accidentally exposed online due to poor security measures. The data, which was stored on a publicly accessible cloud server, included 1.1 terabytes of unsecured personal information including names, dates of birth, addresses, phone numbers, voter registration details, as well as data described as “modeled” voter ethnicities and religions. The disclosure exposed the personal details of over 61% of the entire U.S. population, three out of every 5 Americans, making it the largest largest known exposure of voter information is history.
Your voter registration information is public record and there are many websites that make searching voter records very accessible. Here is a list of just a few of these databases that are available.
If you are trying to keep your personal information (name, address, phone number) out of databases and off the Internet so that it cannot be easily found, you need to be aware what is disclosed in voter databases…and also consider what information could be leaked in a massive data breech like we had this past week.
The decision to be a registered voter is a very personal choice, one that only an individual can make for themselves. It is not my place to advocate for someone to be a registered voter or not be. Given the public nature of these records and how carelessly this vital information is handled from a privacy standpoint, you can probably guess the decision I made a long time ago. I hope some of this information sparks some debate in your mind or at least makes you more aware of a topic where you may want to pause and consider your options.
As with any of this, the time to sanitize your digital footprint is now. Don’t wait until your information is exposed or you have a safety concern. Be proactive, control what information you can, and go about it in a thorough, professional manner.