February 12, 2016

If you want Ted Cruz to know everything about you, download his mobile app and let it access your contacts. Seriously.

AP reports:

Protecting the privacy of law-abiding citizens from the government is a pillar of Ted Cruz's Republican presidential candidacy, but his campaign is testing the limits of siphoning personal data from supporters.

His "Cruz Crew" mobile app is designed to gather detailed information from its users' phones — tracking their physical movements and mining the names and contact information for friends who might want nothing to do with his campaign.

That information and more is then fed into a vast database containing details about nearly every adult in the United States to build psychological profiles that target individual voters with uncanny accuracy.

...

The son of mathematicians and data processing programmers, Cruz is keenly and personally interested in the work.

"Analytics gives the campaign a roadmap for everything we do," said Chris Wilson, data and digital director. "He has an acute understanding of our work and continually pushes me on it."

Data-mining to help candidates win elections has been increasing among both Republicans and Democrats. Mobile apps by other presidential campaigns also collect some information about users.

But The Associated Press found the Cruz campaign's app — downloaded to more than 61,000 devices so far — goes furthest to glean personal data.

The Cruz app prompts supporters to register using their Facebook logins, giving the campaign access to personal information such as name, age range, gender, location and photograph, plus lists of friends and relatives. Those without a Facebook account must either provide an email address or phone number to use the app.

Other candidates have apps which access Facebook data, but don't necessarily look at your contacts.

Here's the thing that creeps me out the most. The Kochs have invested hundreds of millions in data gathering apps for the 2016 campaign. You think Cruz's app contributes to the database? I do.

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