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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 12/26/15

DNC Data Breach Reveals a Lot More Than Hillary's (and Maybe Bernie's) Campaign Data

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Reprinted from by Th0rn

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The fact that the DNC data breach happened, and that the Sanders lawsuit is apparently continuing, may end up being good for Democrats as a whole and for all Democratic campaigns going forward.

The data breach is shining a light not just on the technology vendor at the heart of the issue, but also on the extreme level of control over candidates it has put into the hands of the head of the DNC. It's also revealing the vulnerability of putting the party's vital data into one set of corporate hands and keeping it there, not necessarily for reasons of technical excellence, but for purely political reasons:


At the heart of the Bernie Sanders data mess is a firm that functions as the digital plumbing of the Democratic Party: NGP VAN. Democrats are nearly wholly dependent on it, which is why the breach -- the company says it's the first in its nearly 20-year history -- and the Sanders campaign's subsequent cutoff from the system is so rattling the party...

If nothing else, it's reminded Democrats of the risks of leaning so heavily on one private company to provide its technology infrastructure...

Nearly every Democratic campaign across the U.S. uses NGP VAN in some fashion, though critics say that's due in some part to the fact that the DNC and state Democratic parties force candidates do so as part of the package of receiving party support. The arrangement leaves it up to the Democratic Party to decide which campaigns get access to the software, giving it an enormous gatekeeping power of which the Sanders' campaign felt the force during its temporary suspension of access to the data file...

The VAN part of NGP VAN started in the late 1990s as the Voter Activation Network, built for the Iowa Senate campaign for Tom Harkin when he couldn't find the software he needed for his campaign. A powerful feature was the fact that it could maintain campaign records and recycle the data for use by other campaigns. Howard Dean, when he headed the DNC, saw the value of it and started using it for his 50-State Strategy.

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