A privacy bug in Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s official campaign app allowed anyone to look up sensitive voter information on millions of Americans, a security researcher has found.
The campaign app, Vote Joe, allows Biden supporters to encourage friends and family members to vote in the upcoming U.S. presidential election by uploading their phone’s contact lists to see if their friends and family members are registered to vote. The app uploads and matches the user’s contacts with voter data supplied from TargetSmart, a political marketing firm that claims to have files on more than 191 million Americans.
When a match is found, the app displays the voter’s name, age and birthday, and which recent election they voted in. This, the app says, helps users “find people you know and encourage them to get involved.”
While much of this data can be already public, the bug made it easy for anyone to access any voter’s information.
The App Analyst, a mobile expert who detailed his findings on his eponymous blog, found that he could trick the app into pulling in anyone’s information by creating a contact on his phone with the voter’s name.
Worse, he told TechCrunch, the app pulls in a lot more data than it actually displays. By intercepting the data that flows in and out of the device, he saw far more detailed and private information, including the voter’s home address, date of birth, gender, ethnicity and political party affiliation, such as Republican or Democrat.