Weaponizing data for politics
Shivam Shankar Singh
We’ve all heard of the prevalence of Data Analytics in the political realm and stories of how companies like Cambridge Analytica influenced elections with the use of data. It used to be information that was power in politics but now data and the analysis of it lets parties weild even more power. If done right and combined with on ground intelligence, it allows for microtargetting and targetted advertising that are now a major tool for shaping the public discourse. My talk would focus on what data can be used by political parties and consultants to influence elections and how this data is converted into strategy. The talk would also raise some ethical concerns on the use of data for political purposes so that people working in the technology sector can have a more informed discussion on data privacy laws in the country. It would also be a call to action for people in the tech space to raise their concerns about how most of the data is stored in extremely insecure databases in the country.
The aim of the presentation is to give people an idea of how political parties can use data to shape a narrative during an election. It’ll start with what types of data can be used, how this data is converted into strategy, how the strategy is executed on the ground. The talk would also cover how fake news is spread using insights from data and will end with raising the ethical issues surrounding the use of data in politics.
I’m a politicial consultant working primarily on the data side and have worked on the Manipur and Tripura Legislative Assembly election campaigns for BJP. I also worked briefly on the Punjab Legislative Assembly elections with Prashant Kishor’s company IPAC and was a Legislative Assistant to Member of Parliament (LAMP) fellow in 2015-16. I graduated from the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor with a B.Sc. in Economics.