A Data-Mining Inauguration App, and a 3D printed Smartphone Case

A screenshot of the Inauguration Events 2013 app.

George Washington would probably agree: What's an inauguration without an official Presidential Inauguration app for Android and Apple IOS? The Inauguration Committee has a free one with maps of the Washington mall and other inauguration-themed goodies. But as Politico first reported, the app asks users for contact information, and the fine print reserves the right to share the resulting data. "Candidates, organizations, groups or causes that we believe have similar political viewpoints, principles or objectives," reads the terms of service.

"It's not generally an event that's had partisan overtones," said Kathy Kiely, managing editor of the Sunlight Foundation, a nonpartisan group that pushes for government transparency. "The notion that this would be used as a conduit for what could ulitmately become a partisan political campaign is a little bit eyebrow raising."

The Presidential Inauguration Committee is quoted saying the app is consistent with its mission, and collects only mobile phone numbers that users voluntarily share.

But like social media and many other apps and websites, it's striking how much information we do share -- knowingly or not. Over time, if you are not paying attention, you can end up sharing a lot. One system to help you control your privacy is called MyPermissions.

"It happens all the time, actually," says Olivier Amar, CEO of MyPermissions. "People on a day-to-day basis are always giving access to their information -- anywhere they go online, in the cloud, it doesn't matter -- but as soon as they click 'accept,' they've given away some level of privacy."


Isn't Nokia clever? The Finland-based company is releasing free digital templates so that owners of the Lumia 820 smartphone can geek out and construct customized plastic shells for their phones if they have access to a 3D printer. There's a public library in Connecticut that has one of those printers.

About the author

David Brancaccio is the host of Marketplace Morning Report. Follow David on Twitter @DavidBrancaccio

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