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Obama campaign data mining everything about you and your parents

Sunday, June 24, 2012 by: J. D. Heyes
Tags: Obama, campaign, data mining

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(NaturalNews) Have you ever heard the phrase, "He/She will do anything to get elected?" Well, it's a phrase that now applies to the Obama campaign. The Imperial Presidency needs to know everything about you and your parents in order to remain in the White House for another term.

In what's being hailed in some quarters as the greatest political data-mining operation in history, President Obama's reelection campaign headquarters in Chicago has employed more than 150 "techies" who are "quietly peeling back the layers of your life," all in a bid to win your vote.

Instead of "Forward," the president's campaign message this time around should be, "We'll trample your privacy rights for a vote!" But I guess that doesn't fit on a bumper sticker very well.

According to Politico, the Obama data-harvesting operation aims to know everything about you - everything. "They know what you read and where you shop, what kind of work you do and who you count as friends. They also know who your mother voted for in the last election," said the report.

While Mitt Romney's campaign is also making dramatic progress in ramping up its digital operations, it is said to still pale in comparison to the massive effort being undertaken by his rival.

'A new kind of political engagement' - violating your rights

"It's all about the data this year and Obama has that. When a race is as close as this one promises to be, any small advantage could absolutely make the difference," Andrew Rasiej, a technology strategist and publisher of TechPresident, told the daily politics publication. "More and more accurate data means more insight, more money, more message distribution, and more votes."

Nicco Mele, a Harvard professor and social media authority, added that because "the fabric of our public and political space is shifting," it has become necessary for campaigns to gather as much data as possible on likely voters.

"If the Obama campaign can combine its data efforts with the way people now live their lives online, a new kind of political engagement - and political persuasion - is possible," Mele said.

Launched in late May, the Obama campaign's newest innovation "Dashboard" reportedly is a hyper-sophisticated and interactive online tool designed to give supporters a way to organize, communicate and interact with each other and the campaign.

Also, the campaign aims to harvest the enormous amount of personal data from social media sites like Facebook and others in a bid to build detailed profiles of potential voters.

Apparently, there has been no concern given to whether potential voters want to be profiled or not.

"This allows the campaign to tailor messages directly to them - depending on factors such as socio-economic level, age and interests," said Politico.

The effort is also aimed at - naturally - increasing campaign donations. The data mined is supposed to also help the Obama campaign determine how much "potential supporters" would be willing or able to give.

The campaign has already settled on an average amount - $3 - as some sort of magic number. Politico says tens of thousands of people have already responded to donate that amount, but the catch is, the campaign collects "highly valuable" information from each respondent so it can return to them later.

Scary.

Romney is simply further behind

"They are way ahead of Romney micro-targeting and it's a level of precision we haven't seen before," Darrell M. West, a leading scholar on technology innovation at the Brookings Institution, said. "[The Obama campaign has] been able to work on it under the radar during the Republican primary season."

For its part, the Romney campaign says it's doing things differently, outsourcing much of its data management, for instance, in search of "customized solutions," according to Zac Moffatt, the campaign's digital director.

And, he adds, for Romney it's not about harvesting the most intimate data on every potential voter.

"In the end, what is most important is not how many people on any list or how many followers we have - but their engagement level. And our followers are engaged," Moffatt told Politico.

What does it say about a president who is so willing to allow his campaign to violate basic constitutional privacy rights just to stay in office?

That said, ProPublica.org, an independent, non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest, notes that the Romney campaign is ratcheting up its own data operation, "to compete in a campaign that's increasingly being fought online."

Sources for this article include:

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0612/77213.html

http://reason.com

http://www.propublica.org

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