Digital technologies and personal data are increasingly used in political campaigns to influence people's voting choices. Understanding the technologies and players that are part of this "Influence Industry” has become a priority for journalists, researchers, and digital rights groups. To ensure elections are transparent and accountable, it is key to be able to access information about the companies - such as data brokers and consulting firms - that influence election outcomes globally.
To increase access to information about this industry, Tactical Tech has developed The Influence Industry Explorer - an open-data tool that provides curated information based on public evidence of over 500 companies that play a role in elections worldwide. Besides details on the companies, the tool offers information about over 30 countries they work in, the timelines of their work, and the type of work they do. This is appended with financial data from the detailed public records of election spending held in the UK and the US. The Explorer is supported by public sources and our research methodologies which are also accessible through the tool and the accompanying case studies.
What can you do with “The Influence Industry Explorer”?
The industry is multifaceted and represents several investigative opportunities, and now we want to collaborate and co-develop the next stage with investigators. The tool enables users to discover the details of companies involved in international scandals, such as Cambridge Analytica or Crosby Textor. Users can also dive deeper to investigate their own questions such as examining how much political parties in the US have spent on consulting firms such as Blue State Digital, the type of work companies are conducting in Indian elections, or the role of partisan companies working across several different countries such as McLaughlin & Associates. Through the Explorer you can:
- Explore the companies including the countries and dates they have worked, and the type of work they carried out.
- Access the links gathered to their websites, company information, and previous research conducted on the companies.
- Download the data and analyse it to develop investigations and stories yourself.
An explainer to our methodology and case studies exploring the data can be found here: https://influenceindustry.org/en/explorer/
The data is collected transparently but not free from error and we are keen to work with others to improve the accuracy and quality of the data - if you have any interest in collaborating, co-developing, or providing feedback on the tool or if you have any questions about how to use it within your work, please get in touch by sending an email to ttc @ tacticaltech.org (GPG Key fingerprint: BDEE 1F9A 94DB CDB4 EB3F 2D17 ED37 47E6 87A4 9D27)