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Senior U.S. Catholic official resigns over Grindr’s allegations

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A senior official with the Roman Catholic Church in the United States has resigned after allegations he used the gay dating app Grindr.

Roman Catholic bulletin The Pillar alleged that the anonymized data it obtained showed visits to gay bars and use of the geo-tagged dating app.

The Reverend Monsignor Jeffrey Burrill was Secretary General of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

The USCCB said it took the allegations seriously, but there were no charges of misconduct with minors.

“In order to avoid becoming a distraction from the ongoing operations and work of the conference, Monsignor Burrill has resigned with immediate effect,” he said.

The pillar alleged:

  • the information she had obtained from a data provider was “commercially available”

  • he had analyzed it to reveal “location data and usage information for each numbered device”

  • a mobile device “correlated” to Bishop Burrill and “emitted application data signals” from Grindr

  • he was showing visits to gay bars while Monsignor Burrill was traveling on USCCB business

A representative for Grindr told BBC News that The Pillar post was “homophobic and full of unfounded innuendos”.

“The alleged activities listed in this unattributed blog post are technically infeasible and incredibly unlikely to occur,” they added.

BBC News has contacted The Pillar for comment.

The Washington Post, citing expert opinion, said using data in this way was not illegal in the United States and “is likely to happen more.”

Andrés Arrieta of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which campaigns for digital rights, told the BBC the data should not have been available.

He said the availability of this type of mobile application data was a symptom of “an industry that puts profits before the privacy and personal safety of users.”

He pointed to a report from the Norwegian Consumer Council last year that criticized the way Grindr and other apps handled sensitive mobile data.

“Mark the iniquities”

Reverend James Martin, who advocates for the inclusion of LGBT people in the Roman Catholic Church, expressed concerns on Twitter on what he called “espionage”.

Asking if a priest or parishioner could withstand a similar scrutiny of his private life, he tweeted: “Who, in the end, would stay in the Church?

“As the psalmist wrote, ‘If you, O Lord, marked iniquities, Lord, who could stand?'”

On Monday, the Catholic news agency said it had, in 2018, declined an offer from a party claiming to “have access to technology capable of identifying clergy and other people who download popular login apps. , such as Grindr and Tinder, and identify their locations, using the Internet addresses of their computers or mobile devices.

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