The Dangerous and Invisible Hand in the 2020 Election: Charles Koch’s i360

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: November 5, 2020 ~

Charles Koch

Charles Koch, Chairman and CEO of Koch Industries

As Congress and 17 intelligence agencies of the U.S. government have investigated Russia engaging in interference in U.S. presidential elections, here is what has been going on right under the nose of the Senate Intelligence Committee, the Justice Department and all those intelligence agencies: one of the largest privately-owned companies in the world, Koch Industries, which has a massive financial interest in being allowed to continue to pollute the environment with its fossil fuels businesses, is allowed to simultaneously run a political campaign funding network as well as a political data mining and voter targeting operation on an unprecedented scale.

The Chairman and CEO of Koch Industries, billionaire Charles Koch, sits atop this political juggernaut and has been given far too much cover by mainstream media. As television networks struggle to explain the spread of hate and divisiveness in America, the operations of i360 should be center stage.

Much is already known about the Koch political network and the hundreds of millions of dollars it has pumped into political campaigns for right-wing candidates willing to adopt a climate science denial position. But few Americans are aware of the creepy and Orwellian reach of Koch Industries’ i360 data mining and voter targeting operations.

Take i360’s Rabbit Ears project for starters. Koch Industries, a fossil fuels/climate science denial/$100 billion multi-national company is allowed to spy on your TV viewing habits, carefully record that data, then use that information to target your biases and inner demons to persuade you to vote for the Republican candidate their campaign financing network is supporting. This is how the i360 website explains the functioning of its Rabbit Ears:

“Seamlessly integrated into the RABBIT EARS platform, i360’s political audience segments enable to analyze television viewing behavior for 40 different segments of the population including voting behavior and issue alignment. Each audience segment has been matched to the historical viewership data from a collection of Set-Top boxes (STBs) from providers across the nation to help you better understand what your target is watching and how you can reach them.”

It then goes on to list examples of who might be targeted. Two examples follow:

“Individuals who have a high likelihood of believing that undocumented immigrants should be required to leave the United States based on the i360 National Immigration Model 4.”

Or, another example:

“The Energy Model generates a score that measures the strength of an individual’s relative likelihood to agreeing government’s number one priority should be affordable and reliable energy as opposed to protecting the environment.”

The brilliant Lee Fang detailed at The Intercept last year how i360 fomented hate and “dehumanizing messages” toward immigrants to bolster specific Republican candidates.

In 2018 we took a deep dive into the i360 operation. We found a help-wanted ad for a Senior Data Scientist whose job called for: “Develop and apply models that predict individuals’ propensity to engage in a behavior or hold a particular viewpoint.” Another help-wanted ad for Automation Engineer stated: “…your work will be at the center of driving voter engagement in the upcoming campaign cycle and beyond.”

At that time, the i360 platform said its database had information on 199 million voters from all 50 states; information on 290 million consumers with 700+ data points; information on precinct election returns as well as data from the Census, NOAA, the Bureau of Labor Statistics and geo-spatial data; individual sentiment information on candidates and issues from its social media operations; and information from its grassroots groups (read Americans for Prosperity) and paid door-to-door knockers who are using a sophisticated hand-held device to update the database in real time in the pivotal weeks before an election.

This is a $100 billion, multi-national, private corporation operating in broad daylight in this country. Can America, in seriousness, still call itself a democracy?

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