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EU may fine political groups misusing personal data to skew elections

It's hoping to prevent another Cambridge Analytica scandal.
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Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The European Union is determined to prevent a Cambridge Analytica-style scandal where politicians misuse personal data for strategic gains. The Financial Times has learned of a European Commission draft amendment that would fine political organizations if they benefit from surreptitious personal data gathering. The details are reportedly still in flux, but the penalty would represent about 5 percent of a political party's yearly budget -- not necessarily fatal to a campaign by itself, but it would stack on top of GDPR-related fines.

The measure could still change before it's finished, and it would have to both clear a vote in European Parliament and receive approval from individual EU member states.

There's strong motivation to pass the amendment quickly, though. European Parliament elections take place in May of next year, and there's a concern that Russia and other anti-EU factions will try to skew the vote and weaken the union's resolve. This could discourage parties from accepting data without verifying how it was obtained, and that in turn might dissuade bad actors from trying to peddle unauthorized data in the first place.

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