Speed Reads

Ted Cruz is watching

Ted Cruz's app tracks user data despite campaign promises to protect citizens' privacy

On the campaign trail, Ted Cruz is a staunch opponent of the government collecting citizens' personal data. "When the focus of law enforcement and national security is on ordinary citizens rather than targeting the bad guy, we miss the bad guys while violating the constitutional rights of American citizens," Cruz said during a speech on national security at the Heritage Foundation in the weeks following the San Bernardino shooting.

But when it comes to collecting information for the sake of his campaign, Cruz, the son of mathematicians and data processing programmers, is not quite as committed. The Associated Press reported Thursday that Cruz's "Cruz Crew" campaign app was used to gather detailed information from supporters' phones, including their personal movements and the names and contact information of their friends.

"Analytics gives the campaign a roadmap for everything we do. [Cruz] has an acute understanding of our work and continually pushes me on it," the campaign's data and digital director Chris Wilson told the AP. However, while many campaigns siphon some data about their supporters, Cruz's goes the furthest of anyone in the race and doesn't give the user the option of using the app without giving up their personal data.

Cruz's campaign has argued there is a difference between the government collecting data and a campaign doing the same. "It's not like we're giving it to the NSA," a paid field representative said. Cruz's campaign spokeswoman Alice Stewart agreed.

"Why wouldn't we want to use every tool available to us to win?" she said.