One “data intelligence” firm tracked Iowa caucusgoers through their cellphones

cellphone watching you

…In an interview with the CEO of “a big data intelligence company” called Dstillery…The CEO told public radio program Marketplace something astounding: his company had sucked up the mobile device ID’s from the phones of Iowa caucus-goers to match them with their online profiles.

“We watched each of the caucus locations for each party and we collected mobile device ID’s,” Dstillery CEO Tom Phillips said. “It’s a combination of data from the phone and data from other digital devices…”

What really happened is that Dstillery gets information from people’s phones via ad networks. When you open an app or look at a browser page, there’s a very fast auction that happens where different advertisers bid to get to show you an ad. Their bid is based on how valuable they think you are, and to decide that, your phone sends them information about you, including, in many cases, an identifying code (that they’ve built a profile around) and your location information, down to your latitude and longitude.

Yes, for the vast majority of people, ad networks are doing far more information collection about them than the NSA – but they don’t explicitly link it to their names…

So on the night of the Iowa caucus, Dstillery flagged all the auctions that took place on phones in latitudes and longitudes near caucus locations. It wound up spotting 16,000 devices on caucus night, as those people had granted location privileges to the apps or devices that served them ads. It captured those mobile ID’s and then looked up the characteristics associated with those IDs in order to make observations about the kind of people that went to Republican caucus locations (young parents) versus Democrat caucus locations. It drilled down farther (e.g., ‘people who like NASCAR voted for Trump and Clinton’) by looking at which candidate won at a particular caucus location…

❝One thing that isn’t in the data is personal identifiable information. The data and system are completely anonymous. We have no idea, for example, what your name is. All we see are behaviors and everything we do is based on analyzing those behaviors writ-large…

I guess that makes me feel a little better. Erm.

❝Dstillery: This application is an extension of what we do every day in our core business. Our entire mission as a company is to find the right consumer at the right time with the right message. We had to do some special setup and analysis due to the caucus dynamics, but this sort of experiment – seeing things in the data that no one else has before – is our bread and butter.

Warms the cockles of your heart, right? American entrepreneurs showing the way for the NSA.

If you’re using an iPad or iPhone, iOS operating system, go to SETTINGS > PRIVACY > ADVERTISING > turn on LIMIT AD TRACKING if it’s off.

Every little bit helps. We dump all cookies every day to start the day. We have location tracking turned off for just about everything – and specify that it’s on only when the app is in use. Only apps like MAPS, WEATHER.

GOP ‘rebranding’ campaign = less than a farce

losers

Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) generated the kind of buzz other politicians covet when he launched his bid to help rebrand the Republican Party last spring. Television crews and reporters wedged themselves among the crowd of party faithful to cover the National Council for a New America’s first event at a packed pizza parlor in an Arlington, Va., strip mall. The resulting coverage dominated cable news chatter for the next week. Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney were also on board.

Anyone hear from them – since then?

Since its launch, the National Council hasn’t held a single public event, despite more than 5,000 invitations to take their show out on the road. Congressional ethics rules limit what Cantor can do with the group because he launched it from his leadership office, making it harder to organize events and recruit partners. Despite that caution, the group is still taking heat from outside watchdog groups that argue he is violating the spirit, and perhaps the letter, of those rules.

Furthermore, the Council has come under criticism from conservatives, like former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who made fun of the group for creating a “listening tour” inside the Beltway “bubble…”

Democrats – and some Republicans – have since derided the group for failing to capitalize on the early buzz. The Democratic National Committee issued nine press releases slamming the group shortly after its launch…

And even if the group itself is not publicly claiming credit for any new ideas or outreach beyond the Beltway, its members remain active. Recently, Barbour and former Speaker Newt Gingrich, met with Cantor’s whip team to talk strategy in the health care fight.

Strategy? “Should we just stick with Brown Shirts – or wear the armbands, too?”

Despite the backing of big names, however, some Republicans have soured on the group. Some complained that it would dilute from the GOP message by adding another group to the party’s infrastructure. Others griped that it was just a vehicle for 2012 hopefuls – and Cantor. And conservatives were upset that the group ignored social issues, like abortion and gay rights, during its first event, focusing instead on economic issues.

The whole disaster was designed to lead to Eric Cantor being “discovered”. We already know about pizza.

Obama unveils grassroots caucus as DNC “project”


Daylife/AP Photo by Alex Brandon

President-elect Barack Obama has announced the formation of a group to continue the grass-roots engagement that was a hallmark of his presidential campaign, but lobbying now for his policy priorities in the White House.

“As president, I will need the help of all Americans to meet the challenges that lie ahead,” Obama said in a video message e-mailed to supporters and reporters. “That’s why I’m asking people like you, who fought for change during the campaign, to continue fighting for change in your communities.”

The new group, called Organizing for America, will be a “special project” of the Democratic National Committee, according to Obama transition spokesman Ben LaBolt, and it appears to be the primary vehicle for issue advocacy for Obama’s agenda. It will also be the keeper of Obama’s e-mail list, which has 13 million addresses.

By keeping Organizing for America within the DNC, and running it with a small handful of campaign operatives, Obama is ensuring that the political machine, and political brand, he built during the campaign are preserved and protected over the coming years.

Sounds like a caucus within the Democratic Party – which is OK by me. Something like that exists in many urbane centers. Especially where and when folks are fed-up with old-line party hacks.

I wonder whether this attempt to completely reform the Democratic Party – contains a subtle threat to break away if stonewalled by the Old Guard?