The personal data of 200 million American citizens were accidentally exposed by a marketing firm contracted by the Republican National Committee, writes BBC News.
The 1.1 terabytes of data included birth dates, home addresses, phone numbers, and political views of nearly 62% of the entire US population.
Apparently, the information was stocked on a public Amazon cloud server, and anyone could access them as long as they had a direct link to it.
The huge data cache was discovered last week by Chris Vickery, tech analyst at UpGuard.
However, the information seems to have been collected from a wide range of sources – from posts on the Reddit social network to the committees that have raised funds for the Republican Party.
The information was stored in spreadsheets uploaded to a server owned by Deep Root Analytics.
“Based on the information we have gathered so far, we do not believe our systems have been broken. After we were informed of this incident, we updated the access settings and set the protocols to prevent anyone from accessing them”, stated Alex Lund, founder of” Deep Root Analytics.
Besides the personal information, the data also included religious statements, ethnicities and political prejudices of citizens, such as opinions on controversial subjects such as the right to abortion, arms control, or stem cell research.
File names and directories indicate the data was intended for use for republican political organizations.