Tech

Undue surveillance by anti-porn ‘Shameware’ apps


Brit, a former Accountable2You user who asked to be identified only by her name is actually not about pornography, says. “It’s about making you obey what your pastor wants.” Brit said she was asked by her parents to install the app after she was caught viewing pornography and that her mother and pastor are both her designated accountability partners. “I remember I had to sit down and talk to him [her pastor] after I had an article on atheism on Wikipedia,” she said. “I’m still a kid, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have the right to read what I want to read.”

While accountability apps are largely marketed to parents and families, some also advertise their services to churches. Accountable2, such as you advertise group price for church or small group and has set up several landing pages for specific churches where members can sign up. Meanwhile, Covenant Eyes uses a director of Church and Ministries Outreach to help religious organizations on board.

Accountable2You did not respond to WIRED’s request for comment.

Eva Galperin is the director of cybersecurity at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights nonprofit, and a co-founder of the Coalition Against Stalkerware. Galperin says consent to such surveillance is a big concern. “One of the key elements of consent is that a person can feel comfortable saying no,” she says. “You could argue that any app installed in a church environment is done forcibly.” While WIRED doesn’t speak to anyone who doesn’t know the app is on their phone, which often happens with spyware, Hao-Wei Lin says he doesn’t feel like he’s in the position You can say no to your church. leader when he was asked to install Covenant Eyes. Gracepoint secured him a $400-a-month apartment in Berkeley, where he was attending college. Without the support of the church, he might not have a place to live.

But this was not the experience of everyone we spoke to. James Nagy is a former Gracepoint church member who, as a one-time congregational leader, was on both sides of the Covenant Eyes report. Nagy, a homosexual, was taught from a young age that homosexuality is a sin. So when Gracepoint presented him with a software solution that claimed to help what he then considered an ethical dilemma, he jumped at the opportunity. He said that while he believes many people at Gracepoint were pressured to install the app, in his case the pressure came from himself. “Gracepoint didn’t try to change me,” Nagy said. “I tried to change me.” Nagy is currently an elder at Presbyterian Church (USA) and until 2021 a supporter Project of Reforma non-profit organization whose mission is to promote LGBTQ inclusion in the church.

In their quest to prevent behavior that churches deem immoral, these accountability apps will collect and store extremely sensitive personal information from their users, including those under 18. Fortify, which describes itself as an addiction recovery app, requires users to log in. information about when they last masturbated, where they were when it happened, and what device they used. While Fortify’s Privacy Policy states that the company does not sell or share this data with third parties, its policy allows the company to share the data with trusted third parties to perform statistical analysis, although it no mention of who these trusted third parties are. In a phone call, Clay Olsen, CEO of parent company Fortify Impact Suite, clarified that these trusted third parties include companies like Mixpanel, a tracking analytics services company. user interaction with web and mobile applications.



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