Turning the Tables? Group Challenges Domestic Surveillance by Tracking Obama

In response to what some consider over-reaching surveillance programs conducted by U.S. intelligence agencies, which have been shown to collect thousands of communications with no terror connection, a group decrying the privacy implications of these programs is turning the tables on the president.

According to the Creator’s Project, “Where is Obama” pinpoints the location of President Barack Obama using what the group calls the “Crowd-Sourced Positioning System, or CSPS.”

where is obama
“Where is Obama?” is a new site that uses crowd-sourced information to track the location of the president. The idea launched in response to government surveillance. (Photo via Tumblr)

“The position of the president is a state secret. The White House website shows only Barack Obama’s schedule from the current day, but never dates beyond. The accuracy of this information is controversial. Obama, on the other hand, knows your entire calendar,” the creators Kim Asendorf, Ole Fach, Kyle McDonald and Jonas Lund said of the project. “Every person in the world can now participate in the supervision of the President.”

Speaking with the Creator’s Project, McDonald explained that the idea was initially spurred by the global search for whistleblower Edward Snowden after his initial leak about the NSA’s classified programs.

“The same way the press made the leaks a story about tracking Snowden, we wanted to turn it into a story about tracking Obama,” McDonald said. “To show how ridiculous it is to pin stories like this down to a single person, and to give people the feeling that maybe we have the same power that the government does, if only we organize ourselves. With that power, how do we want to use it? Who do we want to track? Will we emulate the government, antagonize them, or reject their example completely?”

where's obama at
Users report the location of the president using the site’s Google Map. (Image: WhereisObama.at)

Where is Obama? has users report the position of the president with a marker on Google maps. The creators believe that with “all user inputs of the last few hours, a probable position of President (can be) calculated using a complex algorithm.”

If there are no entries, the group assumes this would mean Obama is in the White House.

The site would only function correctly though if it had a strong enough base of users properly tagging the president’s approximate location, but perhaps the point of tracking the president in the manner is more of a political statement anyway.