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Catholic Twitter is having a meltdown. A Catholic news substack published an article about a prominent priest. It appears that they got Grindr location data. Somehow they were able to find a unique identifier for the priest. 

 

Another reminder about privacy concerns and cell phones. There was talk during the 2016 election about how Steve Bannon had data showing which cell phone users had been in Catholic churches. Those users were going to be the target of certain pro-Trump messages. 

Who paid for the deep dive of the dataset? Can people with money use news substacks like this to target people they don't like? 

There is a big debate raging between people who believe this is a huge violation of privacy and people who believe that priests who violate their celibacy vow should be outed to prevent abuse. Making a connection between a priest violating his celibacy vow and abuse is gross, IMHO. Being gay does not mean someone is an abuser and I think that Catholics are naive about the number of priests who violate their vows of celibacy. I've seen articles that discuss surveys showing that the majority of priests, both gay and straight, break their vows. 

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People with money - and not necessarily a large amount of it - can use a lot of methods to target people they don't like if they know the "right" contacts. There are quite a few programs in the criminal underworld that enable tracking of many types of information, some of which can subvert a mobile phone's built-in security.

It is a big violation of privacy, regardless of whether it is right or wrong for consequences to ensue from this type of data discovery.

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I guess one question would be is the phone his private property or is it provided by the Church? If my employer provides my phone they have the right to everything on it. It isnt mine, I dont have a reasonable expectation of privacy. 

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5 minutes ago, theelfqueen said:

I guess one question would be is the phone his private property or is it provided by the Church? If my employer provides my phone they have the right to everything on it. It isnt mine, I dont have a reasonable expectation of privacy. 

I know this is the law but I can’t say enough how much I disagree with it. I think of people have rights, who they work for should not remove those rights. My husband technically pays for my cell phone but under the law that doesn’t give him the right to stalk or gather info off it.  I cannot comprehend how any employer would have an entitlement over my privacy that my legal spouse can’t have. Same goes for schools. They do stuff every day to kids that we know would cost a parent having their children taken from them. Legal doesn’t make it okay. 

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There is a legal concept of expectation of privacy. You don't have an expectation of privacy in a public place, nor your workplace. Someone can take your photo in a public place. A  business can monitor their hardware. If your phone is "part of your workplace" then you don't have an expectation of privacy there. If you want privacy, get a private phone. Don't do private things on someone else's hardware. Don't use it to pay bills. Don't use it to buy things. Don't use it for illicit purposes. 

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5 minutes ago, theelfqueen said:

There is a legal concept of expectation of privacy. You don't have an expectation of privacy in a public place, nor your workplace. Someone can take your photo in a public place. A  business can monitor their hardware. If your phone is "part of your workplace" then you don't have an expectation of privacy there. If you want privacy, get a private phone. Don't do private things on someone else's hardware. Don't use it to pay bills. Don't use it to buy things. Don't use it for illicit purposes. 

I know that. And to a certain extent I agree with it. I agree it’s just stupid for obvious reasons.  I don’t know that I agree with it entirely though.

Most priests pay for their own phones btw. 

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3 minutes ago, Murphy101 said:

 

I know that. And to a certain extent I agree with it. I agree it’s just stupid for obvious reasons.  I don’t know that I agree with it entirely though.

Most priests pay for their own phones btw. 

That's why I said "the first question is" about the ownership of the phone. 

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A priest on Grindr is not automatically an abuser, any more than any other adult man on Grindr. 

It's a wee bit homophobic of those claiming to be concerned about abuse. 

Ppl just don't want a gay priest, whether or not he's celibate. Unsurprisingly. Given it's the Church - not known for its embrace of our gay brethren. 

I think most ppl are aware we are living in a world in which we sell our privacy for all sorts of digital goods. 

I really, though, loathe the bleeding of workplace demands into private life.

Doesn't apply to a priest who has agreed to be celibate 24/7 but there have been endless cases of people sacked for a (legal) thing they do away from the workplace, because the assumption is the workplace can intrude into your non-work life. 

On a scale of misdemeanors, adult man seeks consensual sex with other adult/s just isn't really all that scandalous. Even for a priest!

 

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1 hour ago, Melissa Louise said:

really, though, loathe the bleeding of workplace demands into private life.

Yup.  
Dh’s company pays for a phone, but he’s basically required to have it on him 24/7 in case he needs to work. I can’t see how anyone would think it ethical to track his every move because someone else pays the bill. 

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3 hours ago, theelfqueen said:

I guess one question would be is the phone his private property or is it provided by the Church? If my employer provides my phone they have the right to everything on it. It isnt mine, I dont have a reasonable expectation of privacy. 

I don't know what the law is here. I also don't know if he paid for his own cell phone or not. 

I know that an employee has no right to privacy on devices provided by the employer. However, your location is different than an email sent on a company computer. Does your employer have the right to track your location when you are not being paid simply because you are carrying an employer owned device? 

 

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24 minutes ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

I don't know what the law is here. I also don't know if he paid for his own cell phone or not. 

I know that an employee has no right to privacy on devices provided by the employer. However, your location is different than an email sent on a company computer. Does your employer have the right to track your location when you are not being paid simply because you are carrying an employer owned device? 

 

If that employer has had to pay out billions due to sexual scandals by their employees  (who obviously knew the sexual prohibitions placed on priests when they signed up and who could have renounced their vows), I think that they could make a case that it’s in their best interest to know where they are at all times. 

Edited by Jean in Newcastle
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7 minutes ago, Jean in Newcastle said:

If that employer has had to pay out billions due to sexual scandals by their employees  (who obviously knew the sexual prohibitions placed on priests when they signed up and who could have renounced their vows), I think that they could make a case that it’s in their best interest to know where they are at all times. 

😳

I’m nowhere near a fan of the organization, but I can’t imagine treating employees like convicted felons with ankle monitors.   
We ARE talking America, right?!?!?

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I don’t assume I have any privacy when it comes to my cell phone. It’s a long established fact that if you have a cell phone someone will always know where you are and what you are doing if you are using the phone at the time. People in the US have traded their privacy for convenience. 

Edited by TechWife
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21 minutes ago, Jean in Newcastle said:

If that employer has had to pay out billions due to sexual scandals by their employees  (who obviously knew the sexual prohibitions placed on priests when they signed up and who could have renounced their vows), I think that they could make a case that it’s in their best interest to know where they are at all times. 

In this case, it wasn't the RCC that did the tracking. It was a substack publication (or whatever Substacks are). 

I can see your point here but I'm sure priests would find this very intrusive. And it's not as if there are plenty of men wanting to become priests anyway. There's a huge shortage. They're bringing in priests from Africa because there aren't enough to staff all of the parishes. 

And I don't know if tracking the every move of people because of things done by other people. I'm also not sure if tracking the every move of a priest reduces the opportunity for abuse. Most of the abuse stories I've heard took place in places that would not look suspicious. 

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3 minutes ago, TechWife said:

I don’t assume I have any privacy when it comes to my cell phone. It’s a long established fact that if you have a cell phone someone will always know where you are and what you are doing if you are using the phone at the time. People in the US have traded their privacy for convenience. However, the priest breaking his vows is more troubling than leaked data and the chatter about data is just a distraction, IMO. 

A distraction from him breaking his vows? 

People are raising several issues here. First, there are the data issues. Second, there are concerns about journalistic integrity. Was it right to publish this information? It was published after the priest had stepped down. 

I think this is one of those 'be careful of what you wish for' things. Some people glad that we know that priest violated his vow of celibacy. But there's no end to this. What about the next priest? 

I agree that we are naive if we think our movements are private while holding a cellphone but I don't think that means that it's okay for someone to use that data. 

 

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6 minutes ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

A distraction from him breaking his vows? 

People are raising several issues here. First, there are the data issues. Second, there are concerns about journalistic integrity. Was it right to publish this information? It was published after the priest had stepped down. 

I think this is one of those 'be careful of what you wish for' things. Some people glad that we know that priest violated his vow of celibacy. But there's no end to this. What about the next priest? 

I agree that we are naive if we think our movements are private while holding a cellphone but I don't think that means that it's okay for someone to use that data. 

 

FYI I did think better of that comment and removed it from the post before you replied. 
 

People use that data all the time. The release is in all of those user agreements we click on and all of those cookie warnings we bypass. I am not sure how the journalist came by the data, I don’t think anyone is at this point,  but I agree there are ethical concerns surrounding that. 

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42 minutes ago, Carrie12345 said:

😳

I’m nowhere near a fan of the organization, but I can’t imagine treating employees like convicted felons with ankle monitors.   
We ARE talking America, right?!?!?

 

26 minutes ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

In this case, it wasn't the RCC that did the tracking. It was a substack publication (or whatever Substacks are). 

I can see your point here but I'm sure priests would find this very intrusive. And it's not as if there are plenty of men wanting to become priests anyway. There's a huge shortage. They're bringing in priests from Africa because there aren't enough to staff all of the parishes. 

And I don't know if tracking the every move of people because of things done by other people. I'm also not sure if tracking the every move of a priest reduces the opportunity for abuse. Most of the abuse stories I've heard took place in places that would not look suspicious. 

I was not advocating the use of the data. I am just saying:

1.  The priest did have options 

2.  I could see why the RCC might want to monitor behavior 

but other than pointing that out, I don’t really have much more to say. I am not RC, I don’t know too much about priests other than what I see or read in tv and books. It seems like a 24 hour “job”/calling. I am all for data privacy as a general rule. 

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6 hours ago, Scarlett said:

What a mess.  People need to not live double lives whether they are priests or not.  

 

I agree. And yet leading double lives for the most part is not illegal.

Since this is not illegal activity and neither his actual employer or any legal authority was doing the tracking - I think whoever did this should go to prison. For a long enough time that it sends a deterring message to others doing this vigilante illegal activity.  Because I see nothing that suggests this information was legally obtained or legally shared.

Do I think he should be a priest?

Nope. 

Do I think he has abused his position as a priest in his community?

Yes.

Do I presume he has abused children?

No. 

Everyone is too busy patting themselves on the back for taking out a priest to give a few moments thought to all the stuff they probably wouldn’t be happy to have the entire world know they have said near their phone, pictures taken, data or websites or locations they have been at. Sure it probably isn’t illegal. But neither was what this guy did. There’s a lot of things that are perfectly legal that a person could be ashamed of or that some hacker or data miner could easily twist to make sensationally scandalous. 

Personally I think it should be illegal to take, keep or sell data.  I think people should have to opt in to allow it and it should be illegal to make it allowing it a condition of using our devices or accessing the internet.  Yeah. I know. Fat luck with that. But I still think it’s how it should be. 

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No one has mentioned that this is the priest who put himself smack dab in the middle of publicity and politics in the effort to deny Joe Biden communion because of his political decisions not aligning with his persona Catholic faith. He's also very vocally against LBGTQ+ rights. This wasn't some random priest being outed. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes. 

People can be denied communion, but it is hardly ever done, for a couple of reasons. First, a priest is not supposed to publicly expose someone's faults. In this case, I'm sure they would say Biden's faults are already public, which leads us to the second and most important reason: Catholics are only supposed to take Communion when they are in a state of grace. God is the only one who knows whether a particular person is in a state of grace or not. America is a secular nation, and it has long been accepted that many of their actions as politicians should not be viewed as a reflection of them as a religious person. At some point, it comes down to that person's concious and believing that they are in a state of grace. 

 

The entire effort and public discussion of Biden's state of grace has been a disgusting bit of theater by The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. And a sin, if we want to get all personal about it. 

 

Edited by katilac
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23 hours ago, Jean in Newcastle said:

If that employer has had to pay out billions due to sexual scandals by their employees  (who obviously knew the sexual prohibitions placed on priests when they signed up and who could have renounced their vows), I think that they could make a case that it’s in their best interest to know where they are at all times. 

Look, this is a church that won't let most of the priest get married.  (Exception is Eastern Catholic priests who can get married but can't become bishops).  I don't know but being on Grinder is sort of being on Tinder for hetrosexuals and I don't like anyone I know being on either.

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23 hours ago, TechWife said:

I don’t assume I have any privacy when it comes to my cell phone. It’s a long established fact that if you have a cell phone someone will always know where you are and what you are doing if you are using the phone at the time. People in the US have traded their privacy for convenience. 

Well my privacy disappeared when my civil service record and my dh's was hacked twice by a foreign government and since that included my ss number, birthdate, birthplace, etc, that govt could have found out lots about me.  

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On 7/21/2021 at 1:42 PM, Murphy101 said:

I know that. And to a certain extent I agree with it. I agree it’s just stupid for obvious reasons.  I don’t know that I agree with it entirely though.

It's actually not stupid and not the employers fault. It's because if the government investigates the company they will seize computers, phones and records of that company which includes the phones that they provided to their employees. So every time I was issued a company cell phone and laptop it is explicit that if I was discouraged from using it for personal things. I would always keep a personal phone and a work phone.

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13 minutes ago, katilac said:

No one has mentioned that this is the priest who put himself smack dab in the middle of publicity and politics in the effort to deny Joe Biden communion because of his political decisions not aligning with his persona Catholic faith. He's also very vocally against LBGTQ+ rights. This wasn't some random priest being outed. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes. 

People can be denied communion, but it is hardly ever done, for a couple of reasons. First, a priest is not supposed to publicly expose someone's faults. In this case, I'm sure they would say Biden's faults are already public, which leads us to the second and most important reason: Catholics are only supposed to take Communion when they are in a state of grace. God is the only one who knows whether a particular person is in a state of grace or not. America is a secular nation, and it has long been accepted that many of their actions as politicians should not be viewed as a reflection of them as a religious person. At some point, it comes down to that person's concious and believing that they are in a state of grace. 

 

The entire effort and public discussion of Biden's state of grace has been a disgusting and bit of theater by The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. And a sin, if we want to get all personal about it. 

 

I actually didn't know this part when I posted this yesterday. I didn't see this mentioned by anyone on Twitter yesterday. I see that's since come out. 

But I still don't think that justifies what happened. 

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Just now, Clarita said:

It's actually not stupid and not the employers fault. It's because if the government investigates the company they will seize computers, phones and records of that company which includes the phones that they provided to their employees. So every time I was issued a company cell phone and laptop it is explicit that if I was discouraged from using it for personal things. I would always keep a personal phone and a work phone.

Yes. And if you have to carry your work phone at all times, simply disable location services when you are not working. Very few companies have the phones set up where you cannot do this. 

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1 minute ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

I actually didn't know this part when I posted this yesterday. I didn't see this mentioned by anyone on Twitter yesterday. I see that's since come out. 

But I still don't think that justifies what happened. 

Doesn't justify using the phone data, or doesn't justify publishing that he uses Grindr? Because maybe they should have gone old school and hired a private eye to see if he was walking the talk, but this isn't just your neighborhood priest. This is the general secretary of the The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, an extremely powerful man, who has opposed not just LGBTQ rights but  same-sex adoption and the development of an LGBTQ suicide hotline. He demonizes Biden on abortion, but opposes a suicide hotline for the queer community. How very pro-life. 

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Just now, katilac said:

Doesn't justify using the phone data, or doesn't justify publishing that he uses Grindr? Because maybe they should have gone old school and hired a private eye to see if he was walking the talk, but this isn't just your neighborhood priest. This is the general secretary of the The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, an extremely powerful man, who has opposed not just LGBTQ rights but  same-sex adoption and the development of an LGBTQ suicide hotline. He demonizes Biden on abortion, but opposes a suicide hotline for the queer community. How very pro-life. 

It doesn't justify using the phone data to "out" him. I originally suspected this was conservative Catholics trying to take down a liberal priest. I opposed publishing this story. I'm not going to change how I think about it now that it's a conservative priest. 

 

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5 minutes ago, katilac said:

Doesn't justify using the phone data, or doesn't justify publishing that he uses Grindr? Because maybe they should have gone old school and hired a private eye to see if he was walking the talk, but this isn't just your neighborhood priest. This is the general secretary of the The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, an extremely powerful man, who has opposed not just LGBTQ rights but  same-sex adoption and the development of an LGBTQ suicide hotline. He demonizes Biden on abortion, but opposes a suicide hotline for the queer community. How very pro-life. 

How awful

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1 minute ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

It doesn't justify using the phone data to "out" him. I originally suspected this was conservative Catholics trying to take down a liberal priest. I opposed publishing this story. I'm not going to change how I think about it now that it's a conservative priest. 

 

Just as I wouldn't change my mind it if it were a supposedly liberal priest secretly going to white supremist meetings. 

I don't think outing of any kind is something to be done lightly, but exposing hypocracy in leaders is often a turning point for change. And I do feel bad for him in some ways, but not so bad that I think he should be allowed to keep his secrets while publicly making the lives of other gay men much more difficult and dangerous. 

And I misspoke earlier: it was a 'regular' suicide hotline, but one that included specific supports for LGBTQ people who called. They oppose the National Violence Against Women act for the same reason. You can read about it here and many other places. 

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16 minutes ago, katilac said:

 

Just as I wouldn't change my mind it if it were a supposedly liberal priest secretly going to white supremist meetings. 

I don't think outing of any kind is something to be done lightly, but exposing hypocracy in leaders is often a turning point for change. And I do feel bad for him in some ways, but not so bad that I think he should be allowed to keep his secrets while publicly making the lives of other gay men much more difficult and dangerous. 

And I misspoke earlier: it was a 'regular' suicide hotline, but one that included specific supports for LGBTQ people who called. They oppose the National Violence Against Women act for the same reason. You can read about it here and many other places. 

But it wasn't "outed" to expose hypocrisy. It was "outed" to drive gay men out of the priesthood with the justification being the sex abuse crisis. 

I'm not opposed to "outing" someone in certain circumstances but this crossed the line, IMHO. 

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On 7/22/2021 at 2:09 AM, Ordinary Shoes said:

In this case, it wasn't the RCC that did the tracking. It was a substack publication (or whatever Substacks are).

Substack is a newsletter provider. So the people using the information this way was an organisation who used the Substack site to publish a newsletter.

Employers may have certain rights regarding cellphone data from phones they own, but this is not such a situation - newsletter groups don't employ priests.

It's not even a rogue app using information for its own purposes - this is a group of people using connections made through an app to find out information about someone not in their group (and possibly not even using Substack themselves). It's not clear whether they used Substack to organise their efforts, but I doubt there'd be enough information through Substack to establish whether someone was doing the things alleged by the group.

Substack is a newsletter app and as such, no particular expectations of journalism apply. This exposure is most likely to have been done in people's capacity as private citizens, which complicates the matter some.

 

Making taking/keeping/selling data illegal is theoretically impossible, because we generate it constantly, and these days millions of devices take that data in case there's something of legitimate relevance to those devices. There should be laws about keep any data not relevant to clear and present purpose of a device (for example, we probably accept that a security camera should keep visual/aural records of people near it when it is running - some places limit where the camera can be accordingly - but that same camera shouldn't be picking up phone/internet data from these people because there's no logical connection between data and purpose). And I do think permissions should be as granular as possible - no giving data to Facebook simply because a site one likes and wishes to monetarily support happens to have a Facebook share button available.

On 7/22/2021 at 2:27 AM, TechWife said:

People use that data all the time. The release is in all of those user agreements we click on and all of those cookie warnings we bypass. I am not sure how the journalist came by the data, I don’t think anyone is at this point,  but I agree there are ethical concerns surrounding that. 

Or if you are in the vicinity of someone else's phone (there are already ad networks that take advantage of this to put up ads for things it thinks other people in your household or workplace need). Because of this, one needs the location detection on every phone within hearing distance of you to be turned off to have full security, not just one's own phone(s).

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2 hours ago, ieta_cassiopeia said:

Or if you are in the vicinity of someone else's phone (there are already ad networks that take advantage of this to put up ads for things it thinks other people in your household or workplace need). Because of this, one needs the location detection on every phone within hearing distance of you to be turned off to have full security, not just one's own phone(s).

Yes. One of my friends is fluent in three languages. After I am with her for a little while the ads on my phone are automatically in the language she speaks most often and my social media asks me for several days if I want to change my preferred language. It’s downright creepy. 

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18 hours ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

But it wasn't "outed" to expose hypocrisy. It was "outed" to drive gay men out of the priesthood with the justification being the sex abuse crisis. 

I'm not opposed to "outing" someone in certain circumstances but this crossed the line, IMHO. 

I disagree.  Hypocrites oppressing people deserve to be outed.

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22 hours ago, Clarita said:

It's actually not stupid and not the employers fault. It's because if the government investigates the company they will seize computers, phones and records of that company which includes the phones that they provided to their employees. So every time I was issued a company cell phone and laptop it is explicit that if I was discouraged from using it for personal things. I would always keep a personal phone and a work phone.

I meant it’s stupid to use a work phone but that I do not know that I agree that using a work device removes all the personal privacy and rights of the user. 

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2 hours ago, Amy in NH said:

I disagree.  Hypocrites oppressing people deserve to be outed.

If you want to argue oppression, that’s separate.

There’s no such thing as a human that is not a hypocrite. Everyone is about something.

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