back to article 'Groom-a-Tory' iPhone app sparks privacy paranoia

Mobile developers have expressed privacy fears over a Conservative general election-related iPhone application. The app, launched in February, allows iPhone owners to keep tabs on the Tory election campaign, donate money and review policy areas. It also gives the "ability to telephone canvass friends and report their voting …


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  1. Tom_

    "Call a Friend"

    Should be called, "Lose a Friend."

  2. Stu J


    "New Labour uses a list of people who have expressed a willingness to receive phone calls from party activists"

    No they don't. They rang me last night in the middle of my dinner. I'm registered with the TPS and have never had any personal dealings with them. They got told to f-off, and then had a complaint lodged with the TPS against them.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      TPS doesn't apply

      The Telephone Preference Service only applies to Marketing calls.

      If it's a survey they can still call you.

      If you're already a customer, they'll call you about your account and then try to sell you something (that's apparantly fine, though it doesn't apply here)

      So by reporting it to TPS you've acheived one thing: You've wasted your time.

      Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, and please try to think of a more intelligent description than Liebour, Zanulabour etc.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        and in return

        "please try to think of a more intelligent description than Liebour, Zanulabour etc."

        and in return you'll try to be both more accurate in respect of the remit of the TPS and less pious and humourless, generally?

        looked for a "sanctimonious twat" icon but couldn't find one unfortunately.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        What's in a name?

        "Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, and please try to think of a more intelligent description than Liebour, Zanulabour etc"

        How about "Meddlesome Mandy's Incompetent, lying, thieving, corporate cocksuckers."

        Just a passing thought.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Nail the buggers via the TPS - if you're registered with the TPS and get canvassing calls then complain to the TPS. The TPS website is clear,

    "It is a legal requirement that all organisations (including charities, voluntary organisations and political parties) do not make such calls [sales or marketing calls] to numbers registered on the TPS unless they have your consent to do so."

    The more complaints TPS get, the more vigourously they're likely to respond.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Sales or marketing?

      Electioneering = none of the above

      See previous comment about TPS, and read their website more carefully

  4. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

    Isn't this what Obama did?

    And has been massively praised for it in the media, at least over here - I don't know what the US media and public made of it.

    Certainly the media here like to talk about this sort of thing, and bemoan our politicians' lack of awareness of modern communications. Perhaps they ought to be careful what they wish for. I'm not sure that our different cultural expectations of politics might not make us Britards run away screaming from these modern campaigning methods.

    From what I read of his campaign Obama was still getting most of his cash from the usual groups that give political donations. What his campaign utilised the internets really well for was this sort of thing, campaign organisation and getting enthusiastic supporters to do little bits of the campaigning - as well as the usual highly committed political activists.

    There's also a bit of scope for dirty tricks, so let's hope they control access well...

    1. madferret
      Thumb Up

      Yes he can

      It was the sort of thing Obama did, though not on the iPhone. It's a very different culture over in the US though, where DP laws are less strict. Obama's data gathering was very efficient: everything was co-ordinated through their Chicago center, using the VoteBuilder software.

      Local campaigning generally involved volunteers using their own time to call random people from a call list, the results then being logged according to voting preference, etc. I think Americans are generally more geared up to receive that kind of 'marketing' call, especially at election time.

      1. Mike Flugennock

        Yeah, and at our house...

        ...we're more geared up to tell them to fuck off and hang up.

  5. Ihre Papiere Bitte!!

    Why you're waiting for a response...

    "The Tories are yet to response to our repeated attempts via both email and phone to get an answer to this question."

    Because David Cameron is busy, and nobody else is allowed to answer questions...

  6. Gulfie

    "The Tories are yet to respond"

    Why not get a 'friend' to give the Tories your details using this app - I bet you'll get contacted soon enough...

  7. Anonymous Hero

    Lazy canvassing

    In the last 15 years I've yet to have a prospective parliamentary candidate (or even a canvasser) darken my doorstep from any party.

    Maybe if these buggers started tramping the streets like the old days we might get the turnout up instead of the predictable Con/Lab/Lib party turnouts by the party faithfull.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Do you live in a safe seat?

      If you live in a safe seat, you're unlikely to get canvassed by anyone, as the parties apply their limited time and funds where they're more likely to get a result.

      But let's be honest here, it's not canvassing that makes people interested in politics - they're either engaged with it, or they aren't, and that lasts for the whole length of a parliament. The parties spend a lot of time trying to communicate their message, they've got websites, they talk to the media, they do phone in shows, they even hold the occasional public meeting - some of the buggers go on twitter - and they're now doing TV debates too.

      Canvassing isn't about seeking to persuade voters directly, it's about finding out which way they're going to vote, and acting accordingly - leaflets and calls to the waverers, reminders to vote on the day for the faithful and leaving the opposition alone.

  8. Seanmon

    There is no escape.

    Is anyone besides me already bored fuckless with this election already? And now it's on your phone?

    1. Mike Flugennock

      re: no escape

      I don't know what election cycles are like on your side of The Pond, but the 2008 US Presidential Election cycle holds the record for the longest US Presidential campaign _ever_ -- not quite two years, if you count John Edwards' announcement for the Donkeycratic nomination during Christmas week 2006, after our having had barely six weeks to recover from the '06 mid-term elections.

      Two. Fucking. YEARS. By the time Hillary Clinton had her famous, inane "Diamonds or Pearls?" exchange with an audience "plant" at a CNN-televised "town hall" appearance in December of '07, many of us were already sick of it, and there was still not quite a year of idiocy left. It only got stupider from there, as you all know.

  9. Richard Gadsden 1

    Difference between this and normal canvassing

    In normal canvassing, the canvasser identifies themselves as such; if you answer them, then the DPA does not require them to clarify what they are using the data for - it's assumed to be implicit. The problem with this app is that the "canvasser" is your friend or work colleague; when you tell them how you're voting, you see that as a personal conversation, not giving data to the Tory party.

    Incidentally, re: TPS, if the person only asks you how you will vote that's OK; if they try to persuade you to vote for them, it isn't. Sensible political parties have two scripts for their canvassers, one for TPS-registered people that tells them not to try to persuade, one for non-TPS registered.

    Finally, advice for anyone who wants to be left alone by canvassers:

    1. Find out which party your current MP is and who came second last time.

    2. If you are called on by any party other than your current MP's party, say you are voting for your current MP. They will leave you alone in the hope that by them not mentioning the election you will forget to vote.

    3. If your current MP is Labour or Tory, if you are called on by their party, say you are voting for the opposite party. Again, they will leave you alone.

    4. If your current MP is not Labour or Tory and you are called on by their party, say you are voting for whichever party came second last time.

    There are a (very) small number of exceptions, mostly three-way marginals where the incumbent is Labour with a very small majority; there is no option there that will easily get rid of a Lib Dem canvasser (well, apart from telling them to go away, but another one will probably turn up in a few days if you do that).

  10. xyz

    I've got the Lib Dems p*ssing me off

    Even though I'm with the mail preference service and my council tax details should be hidden, I keep getting junk mail upon junk mail from this bunch. They haven't got a cat in hells chance of getting my vote after this.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      What do you expect them to do?

      There's only a general election roughly every 4 years - and local elections every 4 years too. If you're lucky the 2 will sometimes coincide. If you're in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland you have assemblies to elect too, but that was your choice.

      Is it really too much to ask that the parties can contact you twice every 4 years? I mean it's not as if it's important how much tax we pay, how good are hospital are or anything? Oh hang on...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Up yours

        "Is it really too much to ask that the parties can contact you twice every 4 years? I mean it's not as if it's important how much tax we pay, how good are hospital are or anything? Oh hang on..."

        Yes. Yes it is too much to ask.

        And how stupid must you be to actually believe that the public have any *real* say in the details of the rest of your sentence.

        Jaded? Yes I probably am. It comes with age and (especially political) experience.

  11. Mike Flugennock

    So... they've promised not to use the data...

    ...for spamming, huh?

    Looks like they're going to spam the living shit out of y'all.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    They know who you have voted for after the event anyway

    When you vote, they record your Electoral Roll number on the Counterfoil of the ballot paper.

    Both the counterfoil and the ballot paper contain a unique number.

    Therefore teh ballot is not secret and they can record who you voted for.

    There's probably a bit database holding this information, or at least for those who vote for parties that are not approved of (e.g. extreme right or extreme left or eco-parties).

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Keeping up

    Who said it was just Labour who were creepy.

  14. pctechxp

    Red, blue, yellow, green or whatever

    They can f-off

    Truth is whoever gets in we're bankrupt and gonna get screwed, same as always.

    Best thing we can do is not vote and let them know we cant stand any of them.

    As for this app I'm not surprised as Cameron is an ex PR man = purveyor of bullshit.

  15. BTUser

    Scan a Person's Documents it's OK

    Because BT have already DONE THIS! (Check My Alias -:( )


    The Call a Friend feature allows users to canvass their *****contacts and reports back the names, addresses and voting intentions of called parties***** via email to the Tories who will "use the data to help local campaigning".

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