Privacy Concerns Raised About Democratic Party Election App
The app provides users with nearby Democrats' first names, ages, genders and home addresses.
The Democratic Party has released a new mobile app for iOS and Android devices that checks the user's location, then provides a map of all nearby Democratic voters.
"For each targeted address, the app displays the first name, age and gender of the voter or voters who live there: 'Lori C., 58 F, Democrat,'" writes ProPublica's Lois Beckett. "All this is public information, which campaigns have long given to volunteers. But you no longer have to schedule a visit to a field office and wait for a staffer to hand you a clipboard and a printed-out list of addresses. With the Obama app, getting a glimpse of your neighbor's political affiliation can take seconds."
"When asked about the privacy implications of the new app, the Obama campaign said the information has long been available online to the general public, as well as to campaign field workers," writes The Washington Post's Hayley Tsukayama. "The app, the team said in a statement, is '100 percent consistent with publicly available voter rolls.'"
"The Obama campaign said it takes privacy seriously and can take action against any wrong-doing," writes Reuters' Eric Johnson. "'I think some people view this app as creepy but there is nothing illegal about what they are doing,' said Lior Strahilevitz, a law professor at University of Chicago, where Obama taught constitutional law. 'They are aggregating a whole bunch of public records and using location-aware mapping technology. If a corporation or a political campaign wants to use that information and disseminate it in a useful way, there is no violation of American privacy laws,' Strahilevitz said."