Inauguration 2013: Smartphone app mines personal data for Democrats

Did the Presidential Inaugural Committee create a thinly disguised attempt to grab your contact info for future fundraising?
Photo: Presidential Inauguration Committee website

SAN DIEGO, January 16, 2012 –  The 57th Presidential Inauguration: like seemingly everything else in 2013, there’s an app for that.

The official Presidential Inauguration Committee announced the release this week of an app for iPhones and Android devices to help you “stay in-the-know with everything that’s going on in D.C. and across the country during Inauguration Weekend.”

Among the features of the app being hailed by the Committee:

Live stream: The Inaugural 2013 app’s built-in live stream “is your front row seat to President Obama’s ceremonial swearing-in.”

Maps: Will you be in Washington D.C. for Inauguration Day? Use the app’s maps to find your way to events like President Obama’s ceremonial swearing-in on the National Mall and the inaugural parade.

National Day of Service: Find out how you can continue the first family’s tradition of service by volunteering in your community.

The app has received many positive reviews as being beautifully designed, easy to use, and helpful for anyone attending the inaugural festivities.

But according to the privacy policy stated on the Inauguration Committee’s website, the app will be mining your data and providing it to “candidates, organizations, groups or causes that we believe have similar political viewpoints, principles or objectives.” It’s also made crystal clear under items 1 and 2 on the Terms of Service page on the website as related to receiving information via smartphones or other mobile devices.

When you download the app, registration isn’t required. You can select “skip” instead of giving your phone number when you accept the terms and conditions. If you don’t and your lack of caution results in fundraising calls from the Democratic Party, that’s on you. 

Some critics such as the website AndroidCentral.com and AppAdvice.com think this app and its intentions are pure Evil with a capital (not Capitol) E.

It’s true that inaugurations are national events for the entire nation, but they aren’t nonpartisan. There’s nothing particularly wrong with a free app taking information you freely provide it in exchange for using it, and doing whatever it pleases with your data, so long as you’re properly warned about it. The warning about using your data is there.

It’s a normal practice for political groups to gather information so they can build databases of potential supporters and hit them up. They are in the business of raising money and lots of it. No one should be shocked by this. It’s not the best public relations move to gather data via a smartphone app built for a national event, even a partisan one, but it’s their right to do so.

But if the thought of risking your personal information by providing it to anyone, particularly a political party organization you don’t necessarily support or don’t care to hear from, repels you, then don’t download the app. It’s a simple choice.

Now that you’ve been properly advised, you can download the app here.

 

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. Read more Media Migraine in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow Gayle on Facebook, Google+, and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +

 

Copyright © 2013 by Falcon Valley Group

 


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Gayle Falkenthal

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, MS, APR, is President of the Falcon Valley Group, a San Diego based communications consulting firm. Falkenthal is a veteran award winning broadcast and print journalist, editor, producer, talk host and commentator. She is an instructor at National University in San Diego, and previously taught in the School of Journalism & Media Studies at San Diego State University.

 

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