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Justice Ministry says Likud, Yisrael Beytenu compromised voter privacy with app

The Justice Ministry’s Privacy Protection Authority says the Likud and Yisrael Beytenu parties violated voters’ privacy with their use of the Elector app during two election campaigns in 2019.

Likud’s use of the app also caused a major leak of private information.

The Elector app is intended to enable political parties to conduct real-time data-crunching on election day, showing data on individual voters, polling stations (including rates of support for a party by station) and regions, information vital to a party’s grassroots get-out-the-vote effort.

Election campaign billboards for Likud and its leader Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (foreground), and the Blue and White party led by Benny Gantz (background), in Bnei Brak, February 23, 2020. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

But a flaw in the app’s web interface gave easy “admin access” to the entire database, allowing anybody to access and copy the Israeli voter registry, along with additional information gathered by Likud about hundreds of thousands of voters, including information supplied by friends and family about individuals’ political preferences. The exposed database also included the full name, sex, home address, and, in many cases, cellphone number and responses to political polling for 6.5 million Israeli adults.

Officials had looked into possible breaches of privacy laws — including handing over the voter registry to the programmers of Elector. Israeli election law gives political parties access to the registry, but forbids handing it to a third party.

According to the Haaretz daily, Likud, Yisrael Beytenu and Elector could be fined for their use of the app, in what would be an unprecedented step.

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