Beware Campaign Apps; Why They Might Not Be Focused on Protecting You

Jennifer CaroleElections

The BERN election campaign app has folks on Twitter talking about privacy.

You know the saying: no good deed goes unpunished. In fact it’s one of my favorite songs in the play Wicked. For Bernie Sanders campaign workers, this sentiment is in play. This weekend the Sanders Campaign released a new campaign app and users are not happy.

The BERN election campaign app has folks on Twitter talking about privacy.

[Caveat: we aren’t taking any political position here; we’re focusing on cybersecurity and your privacy; chances are all the campaigns will do something like this.]

Great intentions and powerful use of social media.

On its face, this isn’t a horrible idea. It’s a natural extension of crowd-sourcing and social media. Unfortunately, it also has features that are making people very uncomfortable. NBC reports the app launched on April 27 and is designed to help campaign volunteers identify people who have yet to proclaim their support for Bernie.

“We need to put together the strongest grassroots movement in the history of politics,” Sanders said in a pre-recorded video played for more than 4,700 volunteer-driven organizing kickoff events nationwide. “And we’re off to a good start!”

The online tool allows everyday supporters to contribute to the campaign’s voter database by logging names and background information of anyone from a family member to a stranger met at a bus stop. It matches each name to a voter record before noting their level of support, priority issue and even union membership.” Read more…

From a marketing perspective, putting power in the hands of individuals is solid gold. But we marketing people also have responsibility for protecting our followers/users/participants.

The BERN election campaign app has folks on Twitter talking about privacy.This campaign app is a warning for all of us.

As volunteers, event participants, conference-goers, we are often encouraged to “download the app” to enhance our participation or to get information on where help is needed. Apart from the luddites (the people who avoid tech at all costs), most of us will dutifully download the app and begin participating – because that’s what helpful people do.

A good app will protect your privacy.

True, it’s nearly impossible to know who or what to trust these days. This is one of the reasons we’re committed to cyber security. Unless you make a conscious decision, your personal information should not be shared with advertisers. A good app typically asks you to opt-in choice (meaning, yes, I’ll participate) and yes, it usually includes terms and conditions that require a college degree to understand.

But apps can pretty much do what they want if you opt in. That means the burden shifts to you. Protecting your privacy is paramount.

We’ll be looking at cybersecurity issues as election season gets moving.

Volunteering is as American as apple pie. We encourage involvement. Just pay attention to how much personal information you share. Using a personal VPN is one way to make sure your credentials aren’t plucked from unsecured networks (like at a hotel or coffee house).

If you have a tip or story to share with us – leave a comment below.