“Anonymous” data exposes priest who used Grindr, app for LGBT+ audiences | Antivirus and Security

Relationship apps collect information using mobile location. Use platforms as Tinder or happn it is not a crime and generally does not jeopardize one’s job—except, for example, when the job is associated with the upper echelons of the Catholic Church. The priest Jeffrey Burril resigned after an “anonymous” data leak revealed that he had an account at grinder, app for the public LGBT+.


Grindr on Android mobile (Image: Ivan Radic / Flickr)

Site purchased data from Grindr through anonymous source

It’s not clear who intercepted Burril’s phone data. The Catholic News Portal The Pillar confirms that you have purchased the information from a seller and have reviewed it directly with an independent third-party firm. The website does not name the seller or the contracted company.

Security and privacy experts tell the The Washington Post who do not remember other occasions when the “anonymous” data led to the identification of a person. But information like the geolocation are shared by apps like Grindr, Tinder and Happn with marketing agencies, for example.

This type of data is obviously sold in an “anonymized” package, but that includes age, gender, gender and device ID. By crossing this information, experts say it is possible to reveal the identity of user. Therefore, the data is no longer anonymous.

Jennifer King, a privacy and security researcher at Stanford University’s Institute of Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence, tells the Washington Post that there are no laws prohibiting the sale of such data in the US. The expert also points out: the case is a reminder that no one with location tracking turned on on their cell phone is actually anonymous.

“Anonymous” data reveals that priest went to gay bars

Jeffrey Burril was not from the lower clergy of the Church, but the Monsignor — ecclesiastical title granted by the pope — from the Diocese of La Crosse, Wisconsin. He was responsible for managing the agenda of the members’ convention of the Catholic church; as a cleric, he is required to swear a vow of celibacy. Catholic doctrine prohibits homosexual relationships.

Headquarters of the USCCB, from which the priest who uses Grindr has resigned (Image: Fr. Gaurav Shroff/Flickr)

Headquarters of the USCCB, from which the priest who uses Grindr has resigned (Image: Fr. Gaurav Shroff/Flickr)

The priest, who was also administrator of the United States National Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), stepped down after the revelations of the The Pillar. According to the website, he not only had a Grindr account, but also frequented bars for the LGBT+ public on official business trips.

On Tuesday (20), after the complaints raised by the The Pillar, the director of USCCB, José Gomez, announced that the priest was no longer part of the association. The letter said that the ad was a cause of “great sadness” and that the USCCB learned of the charges the day before and was going to investigate the case.

A spokesperson for the grinder commented that the history of The Pillar is homophobic. She added that it is impossible for the application’s data to be publicly accessed:

​​“The alleged activities listed in the unassigned blog article are unfeasible from a technical point of view and it is very unlikely that this will actually happen. There is no evidence to support Grindr’s theory of data collection and misuse.”

Leak coincides with Pegasus spyware reports

Before the case was released, on Monday, an anonymous source wrote an article published by the Catholic News Agency (CNA) that contained the revelation of members who use dating apps like the grinder. The note did not mention anyone specific, but it predated the scandal of Jeffrey Burril.

Pegasus can spy on iPhones without the user noticing (illustrative image: Darwin Laganzon/Pixabay)

Pegasus can spy on iPhones without the user noticing (Image: Darwin Laganzon/Pixabay)

Leaking data from the Monsignor coincides with a series of revelations about the use of a software called Pegasus, which spied on iPhone users through apps like iMessage; Android phones were also in the crosshairs.

The founder of telegram and French President Emmanuel Macron are among the targets, which also include journalists and activists from countries like Mexico and Saudi Arabia.

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