Obama's New iPhone App Is Questionably Loose With User Data and Privacy

Illustration for article titled Obama's New iPhone App Is Questionably Loose With User Data and Privacy

The new Obama for America app for iOS, released by The Democratic Party last week, is troublingly loose with certain personal information of registered voters, reports Lois Beckett for Propublica.


Of particular interest and/or concern is the canvassing tool, which uses GPS location data to bring up information—age, first name and first letter of surname, and gender—of registered Democrats, all tied to their full address.

Asked about the privacy aspects of the new app, a spokesperson for the Obama campaign wrote that "anyone familiar with the political process in America knows this information about registered voters is available and easily accessible to the public."

Sure, this information was all already publicly available, freely given to anyone who walks into a field office to volunteer. But now it's no more than a few measly screen swipes away! You don't need to even pretend to want to canvass voters to get all the juicy deets. The problem: Not everyone slaps a donkey or an elephant bumper sticker on their car; some like to keep their political affiliations under wraps—not on random strangers' iPhones.

"Our focus remains on helping make grass-roots organizing as easy and accessible as possible for the volunteers and supporters that are the heart and soul of this campaign," Stephanie Cutter, the deputy campaign manager for Mr. Obama, told the New York Times. "That's why we designed our new app to help break down the distinction between online and offline organizing."

But will supporters be so keen on canvassing, once they find out how casually their personal information is being treated by the party? [Propublica, NYT]


Socialism means we get to share everything with everyone.