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Download With Caution: Romney, Obama Campaign Apps Have Privacy Flaws 106

Posted by timothy
from the why-would-you-not-want-supreme-leader-watching? dept.
puddingebola writes "Apps released by both the Obama and Romney campaigns have been found to have 'privacy issues.' From the article: 'Experts at GFI Software looked at the Android versions of both apps, discovering both to be surprisingly invasive. Obama for America and Mitt's VP request permissions, access to services and data and capabilities beyond their core mandate.'"
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Download With Caution: Romney, Obama Campaign Apps Have Privacy Flaws

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  • Flaw? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jeremiah Cornelius (137) on Saturday September 01, 2012 @12:25PM (#41199963) Homepage Journal

    Assume this to be a feature - not a bug.

    You are the crop they are harvesting.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by b4dc0d3r (1268512)

      "Flaw" was not used anywhere but the Slashdot headline. Yes it's intentional, paging Captain Obvious to story 3088225. Both the privacy invading features, and the troll-tastic headline. And you fell for at least one.

      And I'll keep scripts disabled until this sort of shit improves. I have good enough karma to "disable advertising", but I don't do that. Any interesting story with a well-edited submission and no hyperbole or other misleading wording, and of course slashvertisements are disqualified, get a

      • There, you got your advertising eyeball. Until then, my visit is no reward.

        I would not even go that far. That image is being served by people who are tracking your browsing habits regardless of Javascript being enabled. At this point, NoScript, ABP, and HTTPSEverywhere are basically must-have extensions (or their equivalents in other browsers).

        Unfortunately, an increasing number of website won't even use plain HTML links anymore -- forget form submission, now basic hrefs are becoming a thing of the past. Soon we will not be able to browse at all without disabling whatever

      • I have good enough karma to "disable advertising", but I don't do that.

        Ditto, I live in Australia, I'm careful about my private email address, I don't get much spam in my 15yo private account. However somehow the Obama campaign did get hold of it and sent me convention spam signed by various dignitaries, the pattern of "senders" was interesting, it went something like...
        Michelle
        Michelle
        Obama
        3-4 Mayor's in quick succession.
        A "last chance" mail from the organizer of the conference.

        I find it kind of comical but would still like to know where they scraped my email fro

        • most likely your email address is in the contacts (address book) of someone who has your email they download an app on their phone that scraped your email address?

    • by slick7 (1703596)

      Assume this to be a feature - not a bug.

      You are the crop they are harvesting.

      Obama and Romney have been found to be flawed pirates. FTFY

  • request permissions, access to services and data and capabilities beyond their core mandate

    submitter is a republican if the subject of the joke is financial policy, because democrats want the government in your wallet

    submitter is a democrat if the subject of the joke is social policy, because republicans want the government in your bedroom

    • by houstonbofh (602064) on Saturday September 01, 2012 @12:45PM (#41200111)

      request permissions, access to services and data and capabilities beyond their core mandate

      submitter is a republican if the subject of the joke is financial policy, because democrats want the government in your wallet

      submitter is a democrat if the subject of the joke is social policy, because republicans want the government in your bedroom

      And you are a fool if you think there is any difference between them. Both sides want power, and job security. Neither side cares about health care or social security, since they have a better plan for themselves. Vote Kodos...

      • there is a difference. you are a mindless cynic

        • Only in style. Don't be a drone... unless your can deliver the ordinance.

        • by AK Marc (707885) on Saturday September 01, 2012 @04:25PM (#41201329)
          The differences are inconsequential. The Democrats want tax and spend. The Republicans want tax and spend, they just want to borrow first, and tax their kids when they are dead. One fights for freedom of religion (as long as it's *their* religion) and the other fights for freedom from religion.

          For an average wage earner, there is no functional difference between the two. Only the edge cases see a difference (self-employed, people whose primary income is not earned, and some others).
          • One fights for freedom of religion (as long as it's *their* religion) and the other fights for freedom from religion.

            That sounds like a pretty major difference to me.

            • by AK Marc (707885)
              I didn't go into details, but the religious claim that freedom from religion violates freedom of religion, which could make them identical in the eyes of some people (neither embrace the idea of Sharia law used for localities that choose to do so, and doesn't that violate the freedom of religion?).
              • by Anonymous Coward

                I didn't go into details, but the religious claim that freedom from religion violates freedom of religion, which could make them identical in the eyes of some people (neither embrace the idea of Sharia law used for localities that choose to do so, and doesn't that violate the freedom of religion?).

                Christian law for localities that choose to do so is different how? Essentially all that "freedom from religion" people want is that government and government institutions be non-involved religiously (which is what many "freedom of religion" people want, and what the remaining ones want for other religions).

          • by Mitreya (579078)

            The differences are inconsequential.

            While Democrats are far from ideal and *mostly* as bad as Republicans, I have one word for you -- Santorum!
            That someone like Santorum was seriously considered as a Republican presidential contender, tells me that Republicans and Democrats are not the same just yet.

        • there is a difference. you are a mindless cynic

          OK, Democrats can sleep around and not get fired, and republicans can't.

        • by hairyfeet (841228)

          And that would be....? The same lobbyists hand out the checks year after year, the usual suspects are at the top of the check writing lists year after year, hell the closest you can come to a difference is which corporate booty they like to kiss more, the Ds love the taste of big media booty, the rs love the taste of defense contractor booty, and both have permanent kneepads sewn on for blowing Wall Street.

          Or as the late great Bill Hicks said more than 25 years ago "I believe the puppet on the left shares

      • Both sides want power, and job security.

        At the very least, that part is true. The basic aim of any politician is, and should be, to get into power, amass as much power as they can, and keep it. Which is all well in an ideal (emphasis) democracy, since power comes from the people, and the better off the general populace is, the better off politicians are, and the more likely they are to be kept in power.

      • by artor3 (1344997)

        And you are a fool if you think there is any difference between them. Both sides want power, and job security. Neither side cares about health care or social security, since they have a better plan for themselves.

        This is a such unmitigated bullshit. There are tremendous, meaningful differences between the parties. Romney and Ryan are campaigning on Ryan's plan to end Medicare and replace it with a voucher system which, by all accounts, will cover only a fraction of senior citizens' health care costs.

        If you think there's no difference, it's because you're an egotistical little shit who doesn't give a flying fuck what happens to other people.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I looked at it as both parties being corporate America's-big money's pocket.

      All the shit about entitlement programs or social values or whatever the bogus "issues" that each party publicly campaigns on is just distraction "issues" for the head line-none critical thinking-watching 6 plus hours of TV a day general public.

      The general public doesn't give shit about issues like internet freedom or privacy - they only care about "issues" that are spoon fed to them by the powerful elite.

      While the politicians are

      • The general public doesn't give shit about issues like internet freedom or privacy - they only care about "issues" that are spoon fed to them by the powerful elite.

        All I know is I hold the general public to a much higher esteem than the absolutely brain dead mental vomit you find from self appointed know-it-alls like you that we find on the Internet.

        You're trying to tell me people are unable to care about topics on their own? They are only able to regurgitate what someone else says they should care about?

        You've done a good job of hitting that perfect brown note between unbelievably dumb and condescending asshole. It's hard to fake such worthlessness of thought.

        Thank y

        • You should take a minute to read up on Pavlov's work, and others. There are hundreds, maybe thousands of write ups on why people act against their own interests. Some them were there in Europe during the rise of Nazism. Couldn't ask for a better laboratory to work in. Your support of the ruling party (republican/democrat) isn't baffling at all. It's something everybody carries with them. And then, there are some who have the strength of character to overcome it, and act according to their conscious, as oppo

          • You should be careful telling other people what their interests are. How are you in a position to know that better than them? Have you even considered the possibility that different world views, experiences and philosophies might lead to different interests? For example, it's very difficult to make a purely economic argument for owning a hybrid car as the cheapest and most efficient form of private motorized transportation. Any number of alternatives offer a lower cost of ownership. Shall we regard anyone b
            • Again, read up on it. Fascism is a psychological phenomenon, not a political, or economic one. The Nazis and fascists get their power from popular support. And the reasons for their successes are not at all difficult to understand.

              • So what, anyone who doesn't see things your way (i.e. the right way) is a fascist? Again, people are not psychologically impaired because they don't agree with you or hold positions to which you would never subscribe. As for promising to give people things or make certain things happen in exchange for political support, well, as you said, that's nothing new and certainly not unique to Fascists, Nationalists, Socialists, Democrats or indeed any other political group or individual. It's a tactic designed to g
                • Making impossible to keep promises is indeed very effective.

                  It's a tactic designed to... ...exploit psychological weakness and distress. Did you know that sex deprivation (a fundamental tool of fascist leaders) will make you just as crazy as sleep deprivation? Well, it does. That should explain to you the irrational support of your various mainstream religions, and nationalism in general. It's why people dismiss facts and physical evidence out of hand.. Freud, Jung, and Reich, and Hitler's Mein Kampf *(th

            • by hairyfeet (841228)
              Explain the tar paper shacks all across the south with Romney signs in their front yard. Name a single thing the republicans have done that have helped those so poor they live in tar paper shacks. These are the people most likely to be on aid, to be using free or low cost medical care, yet they are also most likely to vote against the very programs that keep them alive. If that isn't voting against your own interests i don't know what is.
              • Explain the tar paper shacks all across the south with Romney signs in their front yard... If that isn't voting against your own interests i don't know what is.

                You mean the ones that have been there since before the Johnson Administration and the Great Society programs and that are still there today? You cannot lay all of that at the feet of Mitt Romney, a man who hasn't yet even been elected to national office. What of all the false promises that Democrats made to those people over the decades? Perhaps they're tired of hearing false promises of handouts as being the way to a prosperous middle class lifestyle and are willing instead to try something else. After al

                • As long as you remain in the shallow politics, there is no hope of getting through. You fit right in as a perfect object of the studies. Your response is Pavlovian to the tee, and confirms everything in the journals and books written on the subject. You have a single party of authority, only differentiated by a thin veneer of style. Yet there you are, actually believing whatever falsehoods they broadcast on the TV. Your faith is a strong, impenetrable, fortress. Your great 'leaders' depend on on that faith

                  • by hairyfeet (841228)

                    The sad part is you actually stop and talk to those in the tar paper shacks and its the classic "crabs in a bucket" where they will happily vote to hurt themselves if that vote also hurts some race they don't like, usually black or latinos. Kinda sad that the "southern strategy" still works nearly 50 years later and still keeps pretty much the entire south voting party line no matter what the party does.

                    What we desperately need is multiple parties, but the MSM are so bought and paid for that they'll mak

                    • I wish people would leave the politics behind, and go after the root of the problem....

                      What we desperately need is multiple parties...

                      :-) Sorry. But I'm trying to point out that you will make no progress in limiting the discussion to politics, which is nothing more than a manifestation of deeper psychological anomalies. What is needed is introspection on our own part. We have to look in the mirror and ask ourselves, what am I doing that enables a corrupt system that only brings harm to others? And, How can I stop?* The list is a long one. With a sufficient amount of that, the politics will sort itself out quite nicely

                      * only there will you

                    • by hairyfeet (841228)

                      Well you can have an "Arab spring" but as we've seen those tend to be rather bloody and you end up with just another dictator taking the slot, would you prefer that?

                      Personally I don't think it is gonna matter WHAT you or I think, a full blown collapse and world war is inevitable. The entire fiat money system is a house of cards, a giant ponzi scheme that requires the governments of the world to throw ever more money in to keep the financial men enjoying their inflated salaries until one day like Zimbabwe th

                    • *sigh* I give up.. I have no idea how any of that relates to my previous post.

                    • by hairyfeet (841228)

                      What post? You mean you "Loook inside man, look iiiinside!" .../sounds of bong being hit/

                      If you think primal screaming or having a Stuart Smalley daily minute of affirmation makes the world a better place, keep right on toking dude. you just pretend that when people don't bother to change anything that millions DON'T die, like they did and are doing right now in the countries we are currently occupying, whatever floats your boat. Just pretend that the PTBs aren't running the fascist playbook [youtube.com] right here in

                    • Yes, look inside. Because it is you that provides popular support for the system you so arduously disparage, exactly like how it happened 80, damn! 90 years ago. It's a system that cannot survive without your support, your labor, your money, your vote. Until you recognize and accept the part you play, there is no hope of changing anything, ever, except for the worse. But you carry on like all the others and desperately seek out someone else to blame. The powers that be is you. Use it, or lose it.

                  • You fit right in as a perfect object of the studies. Your response is Pavlovian to the tee, and confirms everything in the journals and books written on the subject.

                    Of course. The typically liberal response. What a comfort is must be to regard all your intellectual opponents as brainwashed or mentally impaired, it relieves you of any responsibility, at least in your mind, to prove why you're right and everyone else is wrong. Like many on the left you assume too much. Your tone and lack of humility betrays your underlying conceit.

                    You have a single party of authority, only differentiated by a thin veneer of style.

                    And you have your head in the sand, refusing to see, hear or even just to understand the circumstances of those whom you consider to be beneat

              • Yes, what you describe is exactly the issue, but with the caveat that those with Obama signs are no better off. And, as in the past, most of the so-called opposition parties try to use every psychological trick in the books to 'incite a rebellion' of sorts. Extra care must be taken with them. As history has shown, they go after the deepest instinctive fears and anxieties. I will admit that the republican faction is doing precisely that with their 'southern strategy' (hey, it still works to this day, ok?), a

    • Adorable. The Republicans and the Democrats both want the government in your wallet. They just differ on how they take the money out, and what they want to spend it on (though mostly they agree on what to spent it on - the only big difference is Republicans now want to eradicate the social safety net. Dems and Reps both love military spending).
    • by kat_skan (5219) on Saturday September 01, 2012 @04:06PM (#41201205)

      Lest anyone think he is kidding, let's have a look at the permissions for each app.

      Obama for America [google.com]

      RECEIVE DATA FROM INTERNET
      Allows apps to accept cloud to device messages sent by the app's service. Using this service will incur data usage. Malicious apps could cause excess data usage.

      That's money out of your pocket my friends. Typical Democrat.

      Romney-Ryan [google.com]

      CONTROL VIBRATOR
      Allows the app to control the vibrator.

      So it should be obvious that the Register has good reason to be up in arms.

  • Snore. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Frosty Piss (770223) * on Saturday September 01, 2012 @12:28PM (#41199999)

    Is this much of a surprise? This sort of "app" is specifically designed for the designated politico to "leverage" the mindless sycophants that install such apps. As to leading people to "bad" parts of town, that's subjective and poor people can vote, too.

    • by Qwavel (733416)

      Has anyone here actually gone and looked at the permissions required by these apps?

      They are really pretty mild and ordinary. Wow, they want to detect your location and they want Internet access - OMG!

      TheRegister is a rag, and the headline of the linked article "Don't download that app: US presidential candidates will STALK you with it" is sensationalist exaggeration. Why are we falling for it?

      There are tons of apps out there that require permission to read all your contacts and your SMS, and that have no

      • Mild?" [gfi.com] Sure the permissions are relatively mild, like where the Romney app has access to record audio and control the camera. Writing to storage as well.

        One auto-update and it can capture anything you do and upload it to the Romney campaign.

        Obama's app does not have audio or camera permissions. But it does give you a list of registered voters in the area so you can go hound people into voting for your candidate. It also reads your phone contacts so it can tell if you have a registered voter in your cont

        • But it does give you a list of registered voters in the area so you can go hound people into voting for your candidate. It also reads your phone contacts so it can tell if you have a registered voter in your contacts. It can also read your call history, to see if you have called any numbers that match those people in your contacts.

          But these things are *exactly* what the "app" was designed to do, and these are the reasons the people who install it do so.

          Now, *I* wouldn't want these features, and that's why I'm not going to install the "app", but there are serious "campaign supporters" who want exactly these features.

          I mean, people, this is *NON-NEWS*.

          The two campaigns have built an "app" that does things their "hard core" supporters want. This does not effect *YOU* except that one of these drones might come knocking on your door.

    • specifically designed for the designated politico to "leverage" the mindless sycophants that install such apps

      So that would be just about anyone with a Facebook account, right?

    • by fm6 (162816)

      Oh jeez. If somebody is enthusiastic about something you're cynical about, they must be a "mindless sycophant". Get over yourself.

      And no, I don't install political apps. I'm just aware that plenty of people have interests that others find silly [bit.ly].

  • by Crasoose (1621969) on Saturday September 01, 2012 @12:29PM (#41200007)
    I think the most surprising part of the summary for me is that someone found it surprising.
  • I try not to be the guy calling Slashdot out for covering old news. Honestly though, this was on the local tv news over a week ago.
  • And how is this different from nearly every other free app out there? They all want universal access to your device. Non-story here.
  • This is no different then what a lot of newspapers are doing. I'll read an article and want to make a comment so I'll attempt to login using an OpenID or other type of login using my Google ID but it'll say it's requesting access to my contact list so I reject it and cant comment. They want the contact list for a couple of things. Data mining being the first Spam being the second. People should just read what access the app is requesting and if they want access to something that you don't want them to h
    • by Skapare (16644)

      Make your contact list be 1001 honeypots.

    • People should just

      Never assume that people are capable or willing to do anything; first take a look at how people react to a situation, then design your software accordingly. Anything else is going to be vulnerable.

      If you ask my mother if she wants to allow an app full access to the network, she will shrug and say "yes" -- she wants the app, not the dialog that is standing in her way. That is how most people will react to this. The system should be designed with that in mind (say, not allowing an app to access both t

  • by blackt0wer (2714221) on Saturday September 01, 2012 @12:51PM (#41200145)
    Who downloads a campaign app? What do you gain from that, that you cannot find on the news, twitter, or Youtube?
  • Intrusive, possibly corrupt, definitely improper apps?

    "Must...tell...President...McCain..."

  • ... Russian [slashdot.org] Android tablet?

  • Both apps have permissions necessary for a social networking application. This is a "security" company looking for some press, ie. advertising.

    When checking out this particular feature, it told me to go canvassing in part of town locally known for a higher crime rate.

    Oh noes! Clutch those pearls harder!

  • The only useful app is one that can place and track your bets on intrade, or with your local sports bookie (hell plain old SMS will work for that).

  • From TFA: "Even reputable sources like the official presidential campaigns may encroach on what many of us consider a reasonable expectation of privacy and limitations on data collection."

    Journalists today, silly kids. Presidential campaigns "reputable"? Now, get off my lawn...

  • Every app I've seen uses more permissions than what the app is supposed to do.

    • Every app I've seen uses more permissions than what the app is supposed to do.

      Yeah, sorry about that. Blame the Platform, not the app. They don't give us granular enough control over what I need the app to do, like connect to a single website to post some game data, BLAMO, I can access any website. The same goes for phone state, and contacts, etc. Granted, some applications do more than they absolutely need to in the name of advertising. However, many applications are listed as doing everything under the sun, and all they do is play Angry Birds with a banner advertisement... It

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