Operationalizing data-driven campaigning: Designing a new tool for mapping and guiding regulatory intervention

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Since the Cambridge Analytica scandal, governments are increasingly concerned about the way in which citizens’ personal data are collected, processed and used during election campaigns To develop the appropriate tools for monitoring and controlling this new mode of “data-driven campaigning” (DDC) regulators require a clear understanding of the practices involved. This paper provides a first step toward that goal by proposing a new organizational and process-centred operational definition of DDC from which we derive a set of empirical indicators. The indicators are applied to the policy environment of a leading government in this domain – the European Union (EU) – to generate a descriptive “heat map” of current regulatory activity toward DDC. Based on the results of this exercise, we argue that regulation is likely to intensify on existing practices and extend to cover current “cold spots”. Drawing on models of internet governance, we argue that this expansion is likely to occur in one of two ways. A “kaleidoscopic” approach, in which current legislation extends to absorb DDC practices and a more “designed” approach that involves more active intervention by elites, and ultimately the generation of a new regulatory regime.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1
Number of pages17
JournalPolicy Studies
Publication statusPublished - 20 Sept 2023


  • Digital
  • data-driven
  • campaigning
  • regulation
  • online political advertising
  • GDPR
  • Digital Services Act
  • EU


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