Monthly Archives: August 2012

How President Obama Is Using Your Address

I’m a very pro-transparency type of guy in most respects. However, I’m also practical. For example, I’m very nervous about publicly available donation tracking information because it means I can’t quietly support any candidate. There is always a chance that someone will find out who I supported and yell at me / egg my house / key my car.

With great power comes great responsibility and all that jazz.

Which is why I’m writing this post. I mostly like Mitt Romney for president (it’s a long story, buy me a beer and maybe I’ll tell you). But if I gave him my address for volunteer purposes or with any kind of donation and he turned around and broadcast my address to the world, I’m be pretty angry.

And that is exactly that President Obama has apparently done. With the new Obama campaign iPhone app, I can see who exactly in my neighborhood has their address (for whatever reason) registered with the Obama campaign. And I think it is important to let these people know exactly what has happened to this information. Call it “transparency”.

Note: DO NOT harass these people. We don’t know exactly where these addresses came from, but I am 90% sure that it did not come from public donation data. Even if it did, that doesn’t matter. This is about letting people know that their information is public for the world to see, not about giving them crap for their political views (which, let me say again, we don’t know).

Step 1

Download President Obama’s campaign iPhone app.

Step 2

Open app

Step 3

Tap the “Action” tab.

Step 4

Tap “Canvass”

Step 5

Log in or sign up for a new account (this will not place your address on the map, the sign up requires only a valid email address).

Step 6

Find all the people in your area that the Obama team wants you to visit.

Step 7

Take a picture of the map with their address on it (press the power button and the square button at the same time on your iPhone).

Step 8

Drop that image into this file. The text reads:


I’m a concerned neighbor.

I got this address from the Obama campaign’s iPhone app. If you’ve ever given money or volunteer information to President Obama, he probably has your name and address. And he has made it publically available for anyone with an iPhone.

If this bothers you, you might want to contact his campaign and ask them to not share your information with people like me (even though I’m super nice).

Step 9

Print file (10-25 copies should do it).

Step 10

Tape fliers to all the doors on that list.

My goal here is not to bash President Obama. Rest assured if the Romney campaign did something similar I would be beating the hell out of them on this issue too.

This information may seem very public and therefore very harmless to political wonk programmers, but I can assure you that the people who gave their addresses

expected that information to be used this way.


Some have complained that the Obama is only using publically available data, so my problem shouldn’t be with him, it should be with campaign finance laws. May I therefore submit the following into evidence: Here is a map of who contributed to Democratic campaigns in 2008 (blue dots indicate financial contributions during the 2008 campaign):

And here is the exact same area map pulled from the Obama app

With this, I would suggest the Obama app is not using public contribution data, but instead using data from their own supporter database.