Election Apps Invasively Collect Your Personal Data
Though President Obama and Mitt Romney are going head-to-head in one of the most contentious elections in US history and are dramatically divided on nearly every issue, but the two have at least one thing in common: Their election apps intrusively suck up your personal data.
Though millions of US voters are downloading smartphone apps designed by the opposing campaigns to help them keep track of the 2012 election in a convenient, quick, and user-oriented way, they might not be aware of the intrusive permissions demanded by the software, reports GFI Software and NetworkWorld. A knowledgeable look at the “Obama for America” and “Mitt’s VP” apps for the Android and iOS revealed a surprising and uncomfortable volume of information that users end up turning over to the respective candidate’s campaign. Information snatched from the apps includes information on the user and even their friends and families.
Romney’s app asks for a person’s name, address, and home phone number to create an account, but it also asks for a Facebook connection where it can collect all sorts of information on friends. It also gathers information a user’s device, presumably for priority telephone canvassing, and asks for access to the smartphone’s camera and audio recording (though this isn’t used by the app).
The Obama app is much the same, asking for cell and GPS location data as well as access to the smartphone’s contact book, call logs, and SD card contents, according to CIO.
The purpose for each app is different. Obama’s is primarily a canvassing tool for use in swing states, while Romney’s was apparently exclusive to his announcement of his VP running mate. Still, both are information-gathering systems that collect data that could be used in the next wave of intrusive political apps, so politically-savvy users should be careful about what they download and be mindful of what a particular app does.