Barack Obama’s Online Databases Know When You Are Sleeping


| 12/23/2008 10:39:22 AM


Tags: Science, Technology, Politics, Barack Obama, online information, data gathering, privacy, volunteering,

Obama Web 2.0Millions of people came together online during the 2008 election, working to get Barack Obama elected president. They donated money, made phone calls from the internet database, organized meetings, and blogged on the candidate’s website. And now, Barack Obama knows about all of them.

Many gave up their information willingly, volunteering their emails to sign up for MyBarackObama.com’s cutting-edge web 2.0 functionality or yielding their cell phone numbers to receive text messages with the latest campaign updates. The campaign’s army of volunteers also took to the phones and to the streets, asking people for information on their political leanings and issues important to them. According to Technology Review, the Democratic National Committee acquired some 223 million pieces of data on potential voters in the final two months before the election.

That information isn’t going away when Obama moves into the White House. People used to joke that the Republican Party was so successful at “microtargeting,” and knowing about potential voters, that they knew what kind pizza that each voters liked. Now, “GOP's data-gathering efforts look like the work of amateurs,”

Just one problem,” Karl Rove wrote last month in an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal. “It's illegal. There are statutory prohibitions on the White House from using tax dollars to directly lobby Congress by unleashing emails, calls and visits.”

It turns out that the Obama campaign's use of the data is almost completely unregulated,” Grimmelmann writes. MyBarackObama.com’s watery privacy policy states that the campaign can “make personal information available to organizations with similar political viewpoints and objectives, in furtherance of our own political objectives,” leaving the door open for information sharing between the campaign and the NSA, the FBI, or even marketing companies.  

mrrphh
1/15/2009 6:23:13 PM

Well. That's kind of a do-nothing article. With a vaguely alarmist title to boot.