In party politics, some worry that the digital targeting of voters might end up reducing the democratic process to a marketing exercise. Ever more data and better algorithms, they fret, could lead politicians to ignore those unlikely to vote for them. And in cities it is not clear that more data will ensure that citizens become more engaged.
When the internet first took off, the hope was that it would make the world a more democratic place. The fear now is that the avalanche of digital information might push things the other way. Viktor Mayer-Schönberger, a data expert at the University of Oxford, sums up the problem: “Data are mainly helping those who already have information power.”