EletiofeThe Ungodly Surveillance of Anti-Porn ‘Shameware’ Apps

The Ungodly Surveillance of Anti-Porn ‘Shameware’ Apps

-

- Advertisment -

“It’s really not about pornography,” says Brit, a former user of Accountable2You who asked to only be identified by her first name, due to privacy concerns. “It’s about making you conform to what your pastor wants.” Brit says she was asked to install the app by her parents after she was caught looking at pornography and that her mother and her pastor were both her designated accountability partners. “I remember I had to sit down and have a conversation with him [her pastor] after I Wikipedia’d an article about atheism,” she says. “I was a kid, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have some kind of 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. Accountable2You, for example, advertises group rates for churches or small groups and has set up several landing pages for specific churches where members can sign up. Covenant Eyes, meanwhile, employs a director of Church and Ministry Outreach to help onboard religious organizations.

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

Eva Galperin is director of cybersecurity at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights nonprofit, and cofounder of the Coalition Against Stalkerware. Galperin says consent to such surveillance is a major 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 setting is done in a coercive manner.” While WIRED did not speak to anyone who was unaware that the app was on their phone, which is often the case with spyware, Hao-Wei Lin says he didn’t feel like he was in a position where he could say no to his church leader when he was asked to install Covenant Eyes. Gracepoint had secured him a $400-a-month apartment in Berkeley, where he was attending college. Without the church’s support, he might have had nowhere to live.

But this is not the experience of everyone we spoke to. James Nagy is a former Gracepoint church member who, as a one-time congregation leader, was on both sides of Covenant Eyes reports. Nagy, who is gay, was taught from a young age that homosexuality was a sin. So when Gracepoint offered him a software solution that claimed to be able to help what he then considered to be a moral dilemma, he jumped at the opportunity. He says that while he believed 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 says. “I tried to change me.” Nagy is now an elder at the Presbyterian Church (USA) and until 2021 was a facilitator with the Reformation Project, a nonprofit whose mission is to advance LGBTQ inclusion in the church.

In the quest to curb behavior churches deem immoral, these accountability apps will collect and store extremely sensitive personal information from their users, including from those under the age of 18. Fortify, which describes itself as an addiction recovery app, asks its users to log 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 doesn’t sell or otherwise share this data with third parties, its policy does allow it to share data with trusted third parties to perform statistical analysis, though it does not mention who these trusted third parties are. In a phone call, Clay Olsen, the CEO of Fortify parent company Impact Suite, clarified that these trusted third parties include companies like Mixpanel, an analytics service company that tracks user interactions with web and mobile applications.

Latest news

7 Best Carpet Cleaners (2022): Budget, Spot Cleaners, Hard Floors

There is a lot to think about when shopping for or using a carpet cleaner, such as how much...

China’s Police State Targets Zero-Covid Protesters

It was another busy week in security that saw big news about protests, surveillance, spyware, data breaches, and more....

End-to-End Encryption Is Coming to Android Group Chats

Group chats can be chaotic enough without unwanted participants poking around. That’s why it would be nice to have...

Report: Soccer great Pelé ‘had a good response to treatment for infection’

Edson Arantes do Nascimento, better known as Pelé, has not been moved to end-of-life care, which was previously reported,...
- Advertisement -

World Cup 2022: U.S. outclassed, eliminated in 3-1 loss to Netherlands

DOHA, Qatar — The devastating blow that knocked the U.S. men's national team out of the 2022 World Cup...

Elon Musk’s Company Seeks Permission To Test Brain Implants In People

Tech billionaire Elon Musk said his Neuralink company is seeking permission to test its brain implant in people soon.In...

Must read

7 Best Carpet Cleaners (2022): Budget, Spot Cleaners, Hard Floors

There is a lot to think about when shopping...

China’s Police State Targets Zero-Covid Protesters

It was another busy week in security that saw...
- Advertisement -

You might also likeRELATED
Recommended to you