WASHINGTON -- Forget the clipboard. Forget the field office. All that the modern campaign volunteer needs is a smart phone and a smile.
President Obama's re-election team has taken canvassing to the next technological level, introducing a free iPhone app that maps the location of nearby Democrats, identifying them by first name, last initial, and home address.
It also offers a script for volunteers to follow with potential voters and tells how to elicit information about whether they are likely to vote for Mr. Obama and whether they would be willing to volunteer for the campaign effort.
The free app, introduced last week, has drawn the ire of some privacy advocates, who note that anyone -- not just legitimate campaign volunteers -- can download it.
"It doesn't make it right just because it's legal," privacy advocate Shaun Dakin said. "Anybody can get this. There's no way to prevent anyone from downloading this."
Others defended the Obama team's right to publish the data.
"Party affiliation is public information, available through the state voter registration records. I don't see the problem there," said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center. "Still, both campaigns are digging deep into the private lives of voters. It will only get more interesting as the November election approaches."
When asked about the privacy implications of the new app, the Obama campaign said the information has long been available online to the general public as well as to campaign field workers. The app, the team said in a statement, is "100 percent consistent with publicly available voter rolls."
"The campaign is strongly committed to ensuring the safety and privacy of the public… " the statement said. "Any voter who requests not to be contacted again is immediately removed from any lists provided to volunteers."
Andrea Saul, a spokesman for Republican challenger Mitt Romney, said Romney operatives will "roll out mobile features over the course of the campaign." She declined to say whether the GOP is considering a similar canvassing application.
The Romney campaign recently released Mitt's VP, an app that will send out an alert when Mr. Romney selects his running mate.