Just when you thought the Obama campaign couldn’t get any weirder, along comes its latest high-tech gift. Meet the Obama for America app for iPhone, a tool that allows you to spy on your neighbors to determine which of them are naughty (read: not Obama supporters) and which are nice. What you do with that information is entirely up to you.
The website ProPublica explains how the app works. The end-user types in his current location. The app returns a Google map of the area that flags households with one or more registered Democrats. Clicking on one of the blue flags reveals the first name, last initial, age, and gender of Democratic voters who live there. Not creepy at all.
ProPublica’s Lois Beckett notes that this information is publicly available and that canvassers for political campaigns have long had access to it. The question is why Obama for America thinks the average man on the street should have it at his fingertips.
Once upon a time anyone could stroll into a California DMV office with a license plate number and after paying a small fee they could get the name and address of the registered owner. Then a deranged stalker used it to get the address of a young actress who he then murdered.
There is a simple reason that voter registration and campaign donation information are public records – that’s what the law says. The law could easily be changed.
If the law gets changed it will be because somebody misused public records to harass and/or threaten people. Sooner or later, someone will.