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US News United States: Resignation of a Catholic official betrayed by "anonymized" data of the Grind

06:27  22 july  2021
06:27  22 july  2021 Source:   20minutes.fr

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The top administrator of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops resigned after cellphone data revealed that he was a frequent user of Grindr, the queer dating app, and regularly visited gay bars. Nevertheless, privacy experts have repeatedly raised concerns about such data collected by apps and then shared with advertising companies. Even though obvious information such as name and phone numbers can be omitted, anonymized data can still include other crucial information such as gender, age and device ID.

The U . S . Conference of Catholic Bishops announced Tuesday the resignation of its top administrator for “possible improper behavior” after an outlet linked Monsignor Jeffrey Burrill’s phone activity to gay bars and the LGBTQ dating app Grindr. Why it matters: The small Catholic outlet, The Pillar, was able to achieve this by obtaining “ anonymized ” data from a broker, and having a consulting firm analyze it and link it to the church official — showing how easy and legally this can now be done.

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Monseigneur Jeffrey Burrill a démissionné de son poste à la conférence des évêques catholiques des Etats-Unis. © USCCB Monsignor Jeffrey Burrill resigned from his position at the Conference of Catholic Bishops of the United States. PRIVATE LIFE - The Conference of American Bishops denounced an "indecent" behavior of the priest, who visibly used the famous application of homosexual meetings

we will never repeat enough: the smartphone data of so-called anonymized geolocation are only rarely . A head of the Catholic Church in the United States learned it at its expense: it was pushed to the resignation after the publication of an investigation by a Catholic information site revealing that it would have regularly used the application gamosexual meetings Grindr.

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Location data from a cell phone, obtained and sold by data brokers, has lead to the alleged outing and resignation of a priest working for the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, according to a report from The Washington Post. The traffic data , which was linked to the priest and appeared to show when While the data sold by these companies is ostensibly anonymized , it’s been shown that individuals can be picked out and tracked. The data broker industry has been a concern among privacy advocates for years, especially after companies have been caught selling data to law enforcement and state

The de- anonymized data revealed that a mobile device that appeared at those locations—likely Burrill’s phone, The Pillar says—used Grindr almost daily. Data from apps like Grindr have the potential not just to violate people's privacy, Arrieta said, but their safety, too. "When you are serving to a marginalized population whose lives are literally in danger in many areas of the world, or whose jobs are in danger even in the US , you need to have really high standards of privacy and security.

"The Conference of Catholic Bishops of the United States has learned the existence of press information awaiting publication, assuming a possible indecent behavior of its Secretary General, Monsignor Jeffrey Burill" wrote the organization in a statement. "In order to avoid this attention to the attention of the operations and work of the conference, Bishop Burrill resigned with immediate effect," added the organization, adding that it took "seriously all the allegations of inappropriate conduct" .

The American Catholic Church, which has been at the heart of several enormous scandals of pedophilia in recent years, stressed that these allegations "did not concern undeciant conduct towards minors."


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A Catholic outlet used phone data to track Monsignor Jeffrey Burrill. The U . S . Conference of Catholic Bishops announced Tuesday the resignation of its top administrator for "possible improper behavior" after an outlet linked Monsignor Jeffrey Burrill's phone activity to gay bars and the LGBTQ dating app Grindr. Why it matters: The small Catholic outlet, The Pillar, was able to achieve this by obtaining " anonymized " data from a broker, and having a consulting firm analyze it and link it to the church official — showing how easy and legally this can now be done.

A top official with the US Catholic church resigned after cellphone data obtained through a broker appeared to show he was a frequent user of the gay dating app Grindr, reigniting privacy concerns about who has access to consumers' digital data . News of Burrill's resignation , reported earlier by National Catholic Reporter, came after online Catholic news site The Pillar reported allegations of his behavior to the conference. On Tuesday, after Burrill's resignation was announced, Pillar reported that it had obtained device location data from a data vendor that was allegedly collected through Grindr.

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the same day, the catholic information site The Pillar revealed that Jeffrey Burill, a member of the diocese of Wisconsin (northern state), would have regularly used between 2018 and 2020 the application of Gays Grindr meetings and that his mobile phone had been geolocalized near establishments attended by homosexuals.

The site explains to have obtained "commercially available data". Translation: These are data sold, sometimes by American telephone operators, to "Data Brokers", merchants who exploit this juicy business, often for advertising purposes. Officially, they do not contain any information on the identity of the users. But because a unique identifier is associated with each smartphone, just look for a regularly frequented address (home, work etc) to guess the identity of its owner. And then find all his movements.

While safety researchers have been alarmon since years on the dangers of selling these GPS data, The Catholic Reporter has denounced "lack of ethics and homophobic implieds" of The Pillar's investigation. The editor of the site, JD Flynn, defended Wednesday the publication of the article, even if Jeffrey Burill did not seem to violate the American legislation. Unveiling the private information about Monseigneur Burill was "of the general interest," he supported.

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