On a recent episode of Last Week Tonight, host John Oliver weighed in on data brokers and privacy infringements as he essentially blackmailed members of Congress.
After discussing rabidly right-wing and conspiracy-driven One American News getting dropped by AT&T-owned DirectTV, Oliver steered the conservation to a much more vital issue that's often overlooked in our ridiculously short-lived news cycle: data privacy. In discussing data brokers, Oliver pointed out how they often end up collecting more information about us than we are comfortable with -- and using it in ways we would never approve.
But since Republicans care only about issues that personally affect them, Oliver ended the episode by revealing that he and his team put together their own data-harvesting experiment on members of Congress in Washington D.C., and that it yielded surprising results.
“If you’re thinking, ‘How on Earth is any of this legal?’ I totally agree with you. It shouldn’t be,” the host says in his conclusion to the episode. “And if you happen to be a legislator who is feeling a little nervous right now about whether your information is in this envelope, and if you’re terrified about what I might do with it, you might want to channel that worry into making sure that I can’t do anything.”
Oliver seemed to up the ante when discussing human bunion Ted Cruz.
"We could ... and then target that list with ads that might attract those men to click, like 'Marriage shouldn't be a prison' or 'Can you vote twice?' We could also throw in 'Do you want to read Ted Cruz erotic fan fiction?' — just to see what would happen. And if anyone clicked, we'd be able to harvest even more data from them, which we could then theoretically take steps to de-anonymize."