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Science-Fiction Dream of Political Operatives': Obama App ID's Registered Democrats on Your Street


"I'm not sure I like that."

Obama campaign app last week can identify registered democrats, which has some concerned about privacy and others noting this information was already available. (Image: YouTube Screenshot)

Fox Nation headlines it as "creepy." Hot Air deems it as one of those "just when you thought the Obama campaign couldn’t get any weirder..." moments. The Politics and Government Blog of the New York Times calls it the  "science-fiction dream of political operatives."

It may just be a simple campaign app for the iPhone that the Times points out could help replace the traditional clipboard for information collection during door-to-door canvassing, but some are concerned about a particular feature of this app. It's a feature that allows you to see if your neighbor is a registered Democrat.

ProPublica points out that all this is public info -- name, age, gender and voter registration -- "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."

ProPublica reports Lori Carena, a registered Democrat, acknowledging the useful aspects of the app but also saying it doesn't necessarily sit well that her political affiliation is so easy to find.

"My neighbors across the street can know that I'm a Democrat. I'm not sure I like that," she said, according to ProPublica.

Carena said she believes there is a difference between using this app and canvassing the old-school way with a clipboard and print-out.

Here's more on the app from the independent, non-profit news site:

It's unclear if the app displays all registered Democrats who live in a certain area, or only a subset of voters President Obama's campaign is trying to reach.

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."

The information included in the app has "traditionally been available to anyone who walks into a campaign field office," said the spokesperson, who declined to be named.

ProPublica reports the spokesperson saying safety and privacy regulations are being adhered to with regard to the app. The spokesperson also noted voters requesting not to be contacted will be removed from the database.

Still, ProPublica reports some privacy advocates calling the app a "privacy fail," while others say specific measures have been put in place to ensure data is not being used or downloaded inappropriately.

Read more about the app, its privacy concerns, and the distribution of private addresses during campaign season in general on ProPublica's post here.

Watch this promo video about the canvassing app:

According to the YouTube description for the app video, the Android version is expected to be coming soon.

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