Before the news today you most likely never heard of NGP-VAN, or even Vote Builder. But since news broke that the Sanders campaign has been blocked from accessing vital voter information records for an apparent data breach caused by the company the DNC entrusts to protect data, those are now becoming more commonly talked about.
So what exactly is NGP-VAN and Vote Builder? Well NGP-VAN is a company. Specifically it’s a company that specializes in voter data and sells their services/products to Democratic/progressive organizations like the Democratic National Committee, as well as campaigns. Those products include Vote Builder, a voter database comprised of information about potential Democratic voters.
And exactly what kind of information does this system contain? Well to give a little insight to that question, let’s refer to an article from 2014:
The super PAC that’s laying the groundwork for a potential Clinton run in 2016 is testing software to determine whether data about social ties can help identify likely grassroots leaders and new supporters. While the technique was pioneered in the closing weeks of the 2012 election by Obama campaign strategists, the latest effort promises to be far more systematic. If the insights into online relationships prove useful in this year’s midterm elections, further experiments could even lead to campaigns picking out the most active organizers before those people even know it.
Now things such as relationships might not seem like super secret information, but in a world full of hackers and identity thieves, it’s actually considered gold. Consider your security questions to login to your online banking account. One is most likely “maiden name of your wife” or “father’s name”. This system can easily expose the answer to that, and it puts it all in one neat little package, complete with a bow, for those nefarious types.
It’s really troubling that little attention has been given to this fact, which is probably why the DNC chose to leak out what had happened. So perhaps all you Democratic voters out there should really ask yourself if you are comfortable with the DNC having this kind of data in the hands of a company that is obviously inept at security.