Privacy is an important topic for most Americans, regardless of their political standing. This is especially true when it comes to politics, voting, and interactions with the government. Though varying levels of privacy laws exist to address each of these situations, there’s a general consensus that it should be a voter’s right to write to the government, complain, or vote without public fallout following him around afterward. That’s why a recent report highlighting how the White House published the names, emails, phone numbers, and home addresses of Trump’s critics is so surprising.
The 112-page document, released by the Trump administration in response to repeated accusations of fraud, provides a direct screen copy of emails received by the administration. Many of the emails focus negatively on the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, a movement attempting to access voter information in a way that’s more transparent (at least for the government).
Critics of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity say it would grant Trump access to the full names, addresses, date of birth, political leaning, voter history, and last four SSN digits for every voter in the United States. Opponents point out that giving a candidate (or current POTUS) this information poses many risks to the public; not only could it get into the wrong hands, but it could also potentially be abused to manipulate an election, too.
People who sent emails (either positively, negatively or just to say they voted) are now finding that their emails are disclosed to the public in full. Though many are limited to just first names, last names, emails, and locations, some individuals did include personal addresses, potentially placing their safety at risk in these tumultuous political times.
Former Deputy Secretary of Labor Chris Lu pointed out that just because the POTUS legally can release personal information, it doesn’t necessarily mean he should.
“Whether or not it’s legal to disclose this personal information, it’s clearly improper, and no responsible White House would do this.”
Theresa Lee, staff attorney to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), drew attention to how concerning the sheer lack of regard for privacy was.
“This cavalier attitude toward the public’s personal information is especially concerning given the commission’s request for sensitive data on every registered voter in the country.”
While most voters likely won’t experience any problems, there is a heightened risk for identity theft and retaliation from alt-right or alt-left groups. The release is neither an issue of being a Republican or a Democrat; in fact, members of both parties wrote in and had their information disclosed equally. Instead, people who included addresses must now worry whether or not unstable and undesirable individuals can now track them down simply because they chose to speak out about politics.