The Influence Industry Project: Interview Series 1

Inspired by the excellent work of professionals within our international networks, these interviews are a way to amplify the work and voices of the community examining the global and local practices of influencing elections.

Throughout this series, we invite you to join us as we hear from international researchers, professionals and organisers, who have worked on uncovering the broad network of practices and companies working on political influence.

Listen in as former Data and Politics project co-lead Varoon Bashyakarla speaks with various experts, we’ll update this page as we launch new episodes as well as our PeerTube, Vimeo and YouTube channel.

Varoon Bashyakarla is a data scientist and statistician who worked with Tactical Tech for several years as part of the Influence Industry project. His past statistical undertakings led him to a variety of domains: public health, public safety, sports, finance, art, and cybersecurity. He started his career working as a data scientist in Silicon Valley. Today, he splits his time between public-interest technology groups and private sector companies. He aims to help bridge these two spheres and to build privacy and security-preserving technologies that respect democratic ideals.

Find Varoon on Twitter: @vbashyakarla or contact him directly at vbashyakarla [at] proton [dot] me.

First published: June 15, 2023

Find the interviews here:

  • Interview with cyber-security expert: Bob Diachenko

    In this conversation, Varoon Bashyakarla and Bob Diachenko discuss the often underreported causes of numerous breaches and data leaks, the effects of GDPR and other legislative measures and what could be expected of politicians running data-driven campaigns in the future.

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  • Interview with Lawyers Hub: Linda Bonyo and Catherine Moya

    Varoon Bashyakarla speaks with Linda Bonyo and Catherine Muya about the opportunities and challenges of working on digital policy and advocacy in Kenya and across the African continent.

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  • Interview with Tetyana Bohdanova

    Varoon Bashyakarla and Tetyana Bohdanova speak about Tetyana’s research on digital influence within the 2019 Ukrainian elections and the digital political landscape in 2021.

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  • Interview with Nino Macharashvili

    Researcher and data journalist Nino Macharashvili speaks with data journalist Varoon Bashyakarla about the the state of politics in the country of Georgia in 2021.

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  • Interview with Rafael Zanatta

    In this conversation, Rafael Zanatta and Varoon Bashyakarla discuss how popular media often misrepresents techno-authoritarianism, the legal reaction to data breaches in Brazil and why data protection is for everyone.

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  • Interview with Eliana Quiroz

    Join Varoon Bashyakarla and Eliana Quiroz as they discuss the unique work of Bolivian digital rights activists and organisers, and how they are mapping the disinformation ecosystem in Bolivia, particularly through the lens of the orgnisation that Eliana co-founded, Internet

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  • Interview with Kumar Sambhav

    Kumar Sambhav and Varoon Bashyakarla discuss Sambhav’s latest investigative reportage about how Meta’s ad platform undercut political competition in Indian elections, the privacy implications of India’s national ID database, and why regulations need to be dynamic in order to protect citizens…

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  • Interview with Hon. Neema Lugangira

    Hon. Neema Lugangira (MP, Tanzania) speaks with Varoon Bashyakarla to discuss the relationship between online discourse and gender equity in leadership, how the agricultural and nutrition sector are intertwined with technology, and how a girls coding camp in Tanzania convinced a UN office to be…

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