9 Feb 2011

‘Fess up – where does my data go?


There truly is an app for everything.

Recently, the digital world has been aflutter with news of the first-ever app approved by the Catholic Church – Confession, an app that helps Catholics prepare for the sacrament of confession by guiding the user through “a personalized examination of conscience”:

“To help those that are feeling guilty ready themselves for the sacrament of confession, the app provides a checklist of the Ten Commandments — along with mini-questions based on each — to help in compiling an inventory of malfeasance. The app even lets one add in non-traditional transgressions not already listed.”

One of the selling points of the app appears to be the password-protection feature, enabling you to lock out anyone who may try to find out about your sinnin’ ways. But what seems to be missing is what Little iApps, the developer of Confession, will do with the data they collect. According to reports, the app asks users to also provide information on their age, sex and marital status – paired with detailed information on the user’s transgressions, that’s a potentially detailed profile that would be quite attractive to marketers and others.

Details on the collection and use of the user-provided data wasn’t available on Little iApps’ site…so if the developer is collecting and using information without the user knowing, does that mean they’ve broken one of the commandments themselves – “Thou shalt not steal”?


4 Responses

Tweets that mention Office of the Privacy Commissioner » Blog Archive » ‘Fess up – where does my data go? -- Topsy.com Says:

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Privacy Commission , Colin McKay, BxMx, Privacy Matters, Privacy Matters and others. Privacy Matters said: RT @PrivacyPrivee: Fess up – where does my data go? The Confession app, and what's missing from it: http://is.gd/IgB2Rb […]

Bowen Says:

I agree – that’s one of the pieces that I was wondering about when I retweeted the app yesterday.

I wonder if the information on where that information goes is missing because the developer simply didn’t think about it, because the Church isn’t a business in the traditional sense? Or if it’s about gathering a larger profile for better marketing….. which is a bit like Pharisees in front of the Temple all over again.

Jeff Stevens Says:

The information gathered customizes the examination of conscience. Different questions are asked based on whether the user is married or single, a priest or not, a woman or man, old or young. Because different people in different states of life are prone to different sins. So there MAY be a legitimate reason for the data gathering.

It would be useful to know that this data is not transmitted. Why not ask the developers? They’ve been responsive to other comments.

Daphne Guerrero Says:

It’s certainly possible that the developer just hadn’t thought to include information on collection and disclosure as you point out, Bowen.
And Jeff, you rightly point out there may be a legitimate reason for collection. We would definitely welcome clarity from the developer.
Independent app developers sometimes don’t pay due attention to privacy (something we talked about here) and that’s something our Office would like to address in our outreach and awareness-raising initiatives.

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