A Catholic priest has supposedly downloaded a widespread gay dating app onto his smartphone a few years ago, possibly assuming that it would keep his secrets.
This week, Monsignor Jeffrey Burrill stood down from his job as a top manager for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops after a newsletter report said it used his location data to govern that he was using the Grindr app and spending his time at gay bars.
What shows up about this specific incident is not that it is unlikely but that it is the exact worst-case situation that the privacy experts have been cautioning about for a very long time.Personal data is gathered, sold, and bought up by a tangle of app developers, data brokers, and other marketing companies, along with little oversight. The biggest shock may be that it did not happen anytime sooner. Instead, the media got the information quite late.
Bennett Cyphers, a staff technologist at digital rights organization Electronic Frontier Foundation said that this is the first instance where a journalistic entity uses data to track down extremely personal information about a US citizen. This is precisely the kind of privacy threat that the supporters have been describing for so many years.There is still so much to be learned about how the private data of the priest became public knowledge for a few journalists.