Two of Germany’s major political parties bought voter data from Deutsche Post, the former state-owned postal giant, which may have allowed them to target political advertising to specific parts of the electorate, according to documents seen by Bild am Sonntag.
Both the Christian Democrats (CDU) and Free Democrats (FDP) began acquiring the information from a Deutsche Post subsidiary in 2005, and spent tens of thousands of euros ahead of last year’s election on this data, the German newspaper reported.
While no data was shared on specific voters, the information provided by Deutsche Post included more than 100 data points, including households’ gender and education, their consumer habits and other socio-demographic information that may have allowed the German political parties to garner insight into people’s potential voting habits. Deutsche Post also said that it acquired third-party data from the likes of the country’s transport authority, according to its website.
The CDU and FDP acknowledged that they had acquired the voter data, but said they had complied with Germany’s strict data protection rules. Deutsche Post also said it had not broken any privacy laws, and that addresses of individual voters were not shared with the political parties.
The revelations come as people across Europe, the United States and elsewhere are questioning how campaigns gather information on them after allegations that data on more than 50 million Facebook users may have been collected without their consent ahead of the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
The social networking giant denies wrongdoing, but the tactics by political parties’ and their use of digital platforms to reach potential swing voters have now been put increasingly under the spotlight.