Sensitive personal details relating to almost 200 million US citizens have been accidentally exposed by a marketing firm contracted by the Republican National Committee.
The 1.1 terabytes of data includes birthdates, home addresses, telephone numbers and political views of nearly 62% of the entire US population.
The data was available on a publicly accessible Amazon cloud server.
Anyone could access the data as long as they had a link to it.
The huge cache of data was discovered last week by Chris Vickery, a cyber-risk analyst with security firm UpGuard. The information seems to have been collected from a wide range of sources - from posts on controversial banned threads on the social network Reddit, to committees that raised funds for the Republican Party.
The information was stored in spreadsheets uploaded to a server owned by Deep Root Analytics. It had last been updated in January when President Donald Trump was inaugurated and had been online for an unknown period of time.
"We take full responsibility for this situation. Based on the information we have gathered thus far, we do not believe that our systems have been hacked," Deep Root Analytics' founder Alex Lundry told technology website Gizmodo.
"Since this event has come to our attention, we have updated the access settings and put protocols in place to prevent further access."
Apart from personal details, the data also contained citizens' suspected religious affiliations, ethnicities and political biases, such as where they stood on controversial topics like gun control, the right to abortion and stem cell research.
The file names and directories indicated that the data was meant to be used by influential Republican political organisations. The idea was to try to create a profile on as many voters as possible using all available data, so some of the fields in the spreadsheets were left left empty if an answer could not be found.
"That such an enormous national database could be created and hosted online, missing even the simplest of protections against the data being publicly accessible, is troubling," Dan O'Sullivan wrote in a blog post on Upguard's website.
"The ability to collect such information and store it insecurely further calls into question the responsibilities owed by private corporations and political campaigns to those citizens targeted by increasingly high-powered data analytics operations."
Although it is known that political parties routinely gather data on voters, this is the largest breach of electoral data in the US to date and privacy experts are concerned about the sheer scale of the data gathered.
"This is deeply troubling. This is not just sensitive, it's intimate information, predictions about people's behaviour, opinions and beliefs that people have never decided to disclose to anyone," Privacy International's policy officer Frederike Kaltheuner told the BBC News website.
However, the issue of data collection and using computer models to predict voter behaviour is not just limited to marketing firms - Privacy International says that the entire online advertising ecosystem operates in the same way.
"It is a threat to the way democracy works. The GOP [Republican Party] relied on publicly-collected, commercially-provided information. Nobody would have realised that the data they entrusted to one organisation would end up in a database used to target them politically.
"You should be in charge of what is happening to your data, who can use it and for what purposes," Ms Kaltheuner added.
There are fears that leaked data can easily be used for nefarious purposes, from identity fraud to harassment of people under protection orders, or to intimidate people who hold an opposing political view.
"The potential for this type of data being made available publicly and on the dark web is extremely high," Paul Fletcher, a cyber-security evangelist at security firm Alert Logic told the BBC.
Southwest border cities to use IRIS scanning technology to identify illegal immigrants
Texas jails go high tech with IRIS recognition
Criminals and illegal immigrants who get booked into jail along the southwest border will soon have one less way to hide their identity. Their eyes will be photographed with the Inmate Recognition and Identification System (IRIS). The device takes a picture of their iris, which according to police, is more accurate than a fingerprint.
IRIS will be in every jurisdiction in the Southwest Border Sheriff’s Association by the end of the year. That makes up 31 jurisdictions between Brownsville, Texas and San Diego.
“They’ll try to avoid detection with different fraudulently obtained identification and different identities. This system stops that in its tracks,” said Mullin.
The fingerprint process can take up to four hours to check local, state and federal databases. It takes less than 20 seconds for IRIS to get a match, according to Wiles. In addition, fingerprints can come back with multiple potential matches, IRIS comes back with one.
In addition to the jail scanner, there is also a mobile application that can be connected to a smartphone. This allows officers to search for a suspect and their aliases while remotely connected to a database. The device can also take fingerprints, iris and facial pictures.
Muslims targeted by violence in wake of Islamic State-claimed attacks
LONDON — The attack on Muslim worshippers outside a London mosque on Monday follows a rising wave of violence and harassment directed against Muslims across Britain and around the world.
Since the wave of IS-inspired terror attacks in Britain, there has been a five-fold increase of hate crimes against Muslims. Such attacks against Muslims have been on a worldwide increase.
Last year, nearly 100 mosques were attacked in Germany and dozens across Europe have been targeted by arsonists this year.
ISIS warns Muslims that if they fail to either join the fight in defense of the extremists’ self-declared caliphate in Iraq and Syria or carry out attacks in their home countries, they themselves were complicit in a system of oppression against Muslims.
“We are easy targets because of the way we dress and when we pray,” said Hassan Ali, a 34-year-old resident of Finsbury Park.
More than 60% of muslims think that westerners are immoral, selfish, greedy, violent, arrogant, and fanatical
Across the seven Muslim-majority countries and territories surveyed, a median of 68% of Muslims said they view Westerners as selfish. Considerable shares also called Westerners other negative adjectives, including violent (median of 66%), greedy (64%) and immoral (61%)
I must have missed the derision you included with your posting of Frank Bruni's making a big deal out of corrosive, hateful political rhetoric.
But Fuller's piece is not "corrosive" or "hateful".
(I'm hoping that by preemptively addressing the argument I can spare this forum from the dull sophistry it represents, but I've not much hope. Even this bit of prophylactic derision is more likely to be seen as an invitation or challenge, rather than a deterrent, but we'll see)
In their various ways, Trump, Cruz, and Sanders are demonstrating a new principle: The political parties no longer have either intelligible boundaries or enforceable norms, and, as a result, renegade political behavior pays....
The very term party leaders has become an anachronism. Although Capitol Hill and the campaign trail are miles apart, the breakdown in order in both places reflects the underlying reality that there no longer is any such thing as a party leader. There are only individual actors, pursuing their own political interests and ideological missions willy-nilly, like excited gas molecules in an overheated balloon.
Trump, however, didn’t cause the chaos. The chaos caused Trump. What we are seeing is not a temporary spasm of chaos but a chaos syndrome.