New Obama App Raises Privacy Concerns

Aug 13, 2012 16:31:22Posted by John Skorick, MyAKA Founder & CEO

New Obama App Raises Privacy Concerns

Those who are volunteering for President Barack Obama's re-election campaign and trying to get their peers to vote now have an app for that. The new application was released two weeks ago for iPhone and came out the following week for Android. The app gives Democrats information so they can target the right people around them to vote, according to Reuters.

The free application allows the user to see public information about other registered voters in their area. The app shows a voter's first name, last initial, age, gender and street address in an effort to encourage these people to vote or donate to the campaign. The information that the app provides has some people concerned, as mobile security comes into question.

"Not only do they have to collect it, they have to make it public," Justin Brookman, a consumer privacy expert at the Center for Democracy and Technology, told USA Today. "Right now, I could search all my neighbors and see who gave money to whom."

However, others are on board with the application, saying it does not violate any laws and is secure.

"I think some people view this app as creepy but there is nothing illegal about what they are doing," Lior Strahilevitz, a law professor at University of Chicago, told Reuters. "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."

When it comes to repurposing public information as this app does, it is difficult for the opposers to come up with a solid argument, according to the news source. This usage of public information happens relatively often. For instance, pharmaceutical companies are allowed to share some information for advertising purposes.