White House classifies phone numbers, street addresses of website visitors as ‘public information’

Patrick Howley Political Reporter
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The White House’s new website privacy policy, released Friday, identifies phone numbers and street addresses of people who send the president questions on Whitehouse.gov as “public information.”

“Information you choose to share with the White House (directly and via third party sites) may be treated as public information,” according to the new White House policy, which assures that information provided to Whitehouse.gov will not be sold, but does not make the same assurance about information provided on the White House Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus pages.

On the “Contact the White House” page’s question-and-comment submission form, required fields include first name, last name, email, phone number, and street address with city, state, and postal code.

All visitors to Whitehouse.gov have their computer’s IP address stored, as well as “Information about your computer or mobile set-up (e.g., type and version of web browser, operating system, screen resolution, and connection speed).”

“We may also use messages or comments collected through WhiteHouse.gov or official social media pages for our own purposes, such as to inform policy decisions or in public advocacy,” according to the White House policy.

“We may use data you provide and automatically generated data for statistical analysis to assess, for example, what information is of interest to users, technical design specifications, and system performance. This allows us to make general improvements to our site as well as to offer tailored content to email subscribers (e.g., a follow-up message to subscribers interested in a specific topic based on information they have provided or automatically generated data),” according to the White House policy.

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