Colorado-based talk host Jeff Crank says when the pandemic hit, PredictWise saw an opportunity to exploit the panic that ensued from lockdowns, mandates, and other government decrees.
The self-described progressive company went on to track the movement of individual voters from their cell phones and give each one a "COVID-19 decree violation" score. PredictWise, which works with the Democratic National Committee to provide data in key state races, openly explains the surveillance process on its website.
The scores were calculated by analyzing nearly two billion Global Positioning System (GPS) pings to get "real-time, ultra-granular locations patterns." People who were "on the go more often than their neighbors" were given a high violation score, while those who "mostly or always stayed at home" were given a low one. The company then shopped that data to Democratic campaigns so they could target the frightened voters with COVID-themed ads – the sort that apparently helped Arizona Senator Mark Kelly (D) cross the finish line with an election win.
"It's certainly scary," says Crank. "It's Orwellian. It's what we give up when we just let technology take over."
Crank is tech-savvy enough to know that Big Tech can spy on people through their electronics.
"I make the assumption that any time I have my phone anywhere or my computer anywhere, I'm either being listened to or watched through it," he notes.
The talk host adds that using technology to swing votes revealed an authoritarian streak within the U.S. government. He thinks the decree violation score is comparable to the "social credit score" that China assigns to every citizen based off how well they submit to the Communist government's control.
"We have to be very cautious about it," Crank warns. "I think Congress ought to pass laws that regulate it."
However, he is not so sure that Congress can be trusted to limit its own reach into voters' lives.
In the lead-up to the 2020 presidential election, more than 350,000 "COVID-concerned" Republican voters were reportedly given a score by the leftist analytics firm through the data harvesting program. Now, as the midterm elections approach, The New York Times explains that campaigns are tapping a host of different scores and using them to create castes of their most desirable voters. There are "gun owner," "pro-choice," and "Trump 2024" scores, which cover everyday politics. There are also voter rankings on hot-button issues like "racial resentment" and "trans athletes should not participate."