Obama Team Mining Personal Info to Woo Donors

Friday, 16 Mar 2012 10:01 AM

By Greg McDonald

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President Barack Obama’s re-election team is tapping into personal information available over the Internet to learn who you are, what you think, and what kind of campaign messages might influence your vote in November.
 
Privacy advocates are criticizing the effort as a conflict with the president’s own online privacy project aimed at creating a consumer bill of rights to protect personal data, according to Politico.
 
“The Obama campaign has to confront the contradiction that the president talks about ‘timeless privacy values,’ and then, his campaign using contemporary digital tools to operate a stunning commercial surveillance system,” Jeff Chester, executive director for the Center for Digital Democracy told Politico.
 
“The idea that the Obama campaign can create a political dossier on you that they can act upon without asking permission first is outrageous,” he added.
 
According to Politico, the Obama for America campaign has spent millions on Internet marketing and fundraising efforts built on a centralized database containing all sorts of information about potential voters — even the kind of mobile devices and Web browsers they use — and their location. 
 
Much like a company that tracks where consumers go online and how they spend their money, the campaign has the ability to put together personal information that can specifically target election-year messages.
 
In its report, Politico noted that the Republican presidential candidates are doing the same thing. But Obama campaign officials are more experienced at it, based on the massive Internet voter outreach effort they engineered in the 2008 presidential campaign.
 
Both the Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee declined to discuss anything specific about how the information collected is used.
 
But campaign spokeswoman Katie Hogan told Politico, “This campaign has always and will continue to be an organization that respects and takes care to protect information that people share with us. We go to great lengths to make sure that supporters have the ability to opt out of communication and contact from the campaign.”

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