Ted Cruz is unique among GOP candidates for having an official, up-to-date app for both Android and iPhone. Not even Trump has one as detailed or dedicated to finding voters. But there are some serious questions about the information the app collects, and the goals Cruz hopes to achieve with it.
The fundamental issue is that the app, called the Cruz Crew, wants users to give the Cruz campaign quite literally everything about them, and their friends, available online. To use the app, you have to provide the Cruz campaign with your Facebook login and full access to your account, which is not disclosed before you download it. If you don’t have a Facebook account, you can provide a phone number or email. That is, however, a moot point: The app permissions for Android reveal the app scans your contacts and may potentially send it to the Cruz campaign.
Furthermore, it isn’t only the Cruz campaign that has access to this information. Cruz’s team shares the information with Cambridge Analytica, a controversial company in the data-mining community. It faced difficulty recently when it paid Facebook users to take a personality quiz, but didn’t properly disclose that the real goal was to access their profile data, including information about that person’s friends. It appears this was done to develop a database for the Cruz campaign, and Cruz’s app works on the same model, collecting as much information as possible and storing it in Analytica’s database. While it’s possible to opt out of sharing contact lists and location data, it’s unclear how long your Facebook data might be kept, who else it may be shared with in the future, and how securely it might be stored.
Of course, if you’re a Cruz supporter who doesn’t want to share your Facebook with his campaign, you can simply not download the app. Still, the violation of privacy raises some questions that hopefully Mr. Cruz will answer sooner rather than later.
(Via The Associated Press)