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A “faltering” web app helps the Trump campaign monitor voters

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The Associated Press reported that Phunware on a cell phone supported the election campaign of US President Donald Trump, enabling campaign personnel to monitor the movements of millions of his supporters and enter their social networks.

She indicated that the digital details collected by the app could be used in various other uses, including collecting donations for future political projects for Trump, stimulating his base, or even forming an audience for a new media empire, which the president or his camp might establish.

The app has been downloaded 2.8 million times, more than any other app in a US presidential campaign. This allows the Trump team to communicate directly with users and see their entire contacts if they allow it.

The privacy policy adopted by the application states that it can track the behavior of its users, both on its platform and in the real world, send news notifications, collect donations, sell goods bearing the slogan “Make America Great Again,” and synchronize it with processes of bulk text messages.

But the app is strapped for cash and has received key support from the administration and the Trump campaign. The Associated Press reported that the “Vanwer” company, which is based in Austin, Texas’s capital, recently agreed to pay Uber taxi companies $ 4.5 million as part of a settlement over allegations of fraudulent advertising. The Nasdaq Stock Exchange, noting that its shares are traded for little.

Mali’s lifeline

The agency indicated that observers of the campaign and former employees of it, wondering how a start-up company is facing financial difficulties, and is better known for preparing applications for hospitals and a mine in Manhattan, has become an influential factor in Trump’s attempt to re-elect him, which facilitated continuous data and efforts to collect donations, which formed a financial lifeline. Of the company.

The agency quoted Adav Notti, a former attorney for the Federal Election Commission, who is now working with the “legal center of the campaign”, who is not politically biased, as saying that the application activity has slowed recently, adding that the dense data he has collected on Trump’s supporters may be used for many purposes in the future. Note that it can include everything from their list of contacts to their IP addresses and whereabouts.

He added that Congress and the Federal Election Commission had not drafted rules governing how election campaigns use the personal data of people or who their bylaws might sell. He continued, “You can definitely buy data, and the campaign can sell it to you. The toughest question is how much you have to pay for it.”

The company denies interference in the elections

The Associated Press reported that Vanoyer refused to answer questions about its implementation, financial condition, internal culture and its relationship to the Trump campaign. It quoted the company’s chairman, Alan Knitovsky, as saying in an email: “Vanuire has no role at all in the constitutional processes related to the US elections at any level … Likewise, it has no role in the content that is created, or that our customers use, that is related to our software for cellular devices. Or our cloud platform for those devices. “

Financial difficulties

The “Associated Press” reported that “Fanwer” has laid off employees, customers and investors, after it ran into financial difficulties. It quoted Karl Rove, a former advisor to President George W. Bush, as saying that he had brought together the company’s employees with Brad Barskill, the digital director of Trump’s campaign in 2016. However, Barskill did not inform him of the contract with “Vanoyer”. But Knitovsky stressed that the campaign was contacted “directly”.


He puts on a muzzle that reads "Let's make America great again" during a rally for President Donald
 Trump in Pennsylvania - August 20, 2020 - REUTERS
Old desire to courtship

And in early 2019, former Knaitovsky colleagues said he had spoken of his desire to woo the Trump campaign. Last August, Knitovsky announced work with American Made Media Consultants, which he described as “also known as the Trump-(Mike) Pence 2020 Campaign and the Keep America Great Campaign.”

The company revealed details of its work on the Trump campaign implementation, which included geolocation tools and other features to help the campaign gather new users. There is also a loyalty system, in which supporters can collect points to spend on buying signed hats, reading “Make America Great Again,” or taking a photo with the Republican president.

Anti-Coronavirus Loan

Last April, Fanwer secured a $ 2.9 million loan from a relief fund set up by Congress to help small businesses under the shadow of Corona. But Randall Crowder, the firm’s chief operating officer, denied any political favoritism.

According to records of the US Securities and Exchange Commission, by July of this year, American Made Media Consultants had acquired a third of all Fanware sales, paying them more than $ 1.6 million in the first half of 2020.

The company, Apptopia Internet data, that the application “Fanware” had been downloaded 2.8 million times, by mid-November. Iliran Sapir, CEO of Apptopia, estimated that this could give the Trump campaign hundreds of millions of phone numbers from users of the app and their contact lists. But a researcher at Carnegie Mellon University estimated that the number would reach about 27 million, as a result of duplicate phone numbers, according to the “Associated Press.”

The agency concluded that American Made Media Consultants was the most important customer of Fanware, and paid her $ 2.4 million during the first nine months of 2020, equivalent to about a third of the company’s revenue.

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