Comments in Church's HT/VT Application

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WelchTC
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#11

Post by WelchTC »

Brad O. wrote:I am not seeing how the Church can be sued for comments when we have YouTube, FaceBook, and MySpace allowing people to make public comments about WHO KNOWS WHAT. No one is going to get sued unless the Church refuses to remove information upon request. This is how I handle RAR. In the rare instances that someone gets upset that their information is online, I promptly remove it.
As previously mentioned, YouTube, Facebook, and MySpace are opt-in. How can a person opt-out when they don't know that they are opted in?
Brad O. wrote:I do not understand why this couldn't be included in a "usage acceptance clause" and agreed to by all users of the system. For international laws, this functionality could be disabled... but in the US, there should be no reason why we could not accomplish this. I'm no lawyer, but I know what I see on other websites is far more threatening than private comments for the Presidency.
The lawyers who do understand the issues feel it is an issue so we should leave it to them.

Tom
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WelchTC
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#12

Post by WelchTC »

jbh001 wrote:No. email can be looked at as having a sort of common-carrier status, unless it originates from company/corporate sources. Then email becomes official legal records of the company/corporation.

If the Church starts sponsoring "open-ended notes" on members, because the Church is hosting the service, there are legal records retention requirements that might come into play, as well as those notes being subpoena-able.

Regardless of how well it is working on a non-Church sponsored third-party site, there is a huge potential for misuse and abuse which the Church many become liable for should it incorporate that functionality into official Church software.

I am not a lawyer (and I don't play one on TV), neither have I been a part of or privy to any of the policy discussions the Church has made over this. Yet even I can see how this could become a real headache for the Church if it doesn't examine this issue from all angles to minimize its risk.

Another difference with this is that MySpace and Facebook use an opt-in model. The individual assumes the risk and liabilities of participating in that service when they sign up for it. The opt-in model does not apply to HT/VT. You can imagine how well it would work if it was opt-in only. "Yes, I have 5 families assigned on my HT route, but none of them have opted-in to RAR, so I still have to call in my report to my priesthood leader, until they choose to do so."

And it's not fair to assume that because someone was baptized into the Church, that was the moment they opted-in to RAR. The telecom industry when through a similar issue over caller-ID about 2 decades ago. Just because people opted-in for telephone service, didn't mean that they also opted-in to having their unlisted or unpublished phone number displayed to the receiving party every time they made a phone call.
Well said. Thank you!

Tom
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brado426
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#13

Post by brado426 »

With RAR, the comments are never stored... they are Emailed straight through to the Presidency as if the person typing the comment had sent an Email. What is the difference between that and a person Emailing a confidential comment using their Email client?

I hope we can continue pushing for and come up with a solution to this, because I mean it when I say that a system lacking the comments loses at least 50% of its value.

Tom: Based on what you just said, it sounds as though Custom Contact Types is out of the question, too.

Brad O. (shaking head in frustration)
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#14

Post by eblood66 »

Brad O. wrote:With RAR, the comments are never stored... they are Emailed straight through to the Presidency as if the person typing the comment had sent an Email. What is the difference between that and a person Emailing a confidential comment using their Email client?

I'm also not a lawyer and not privy to any internal church discussions, but I would guess that in one case the church web site would be soliciting information on families and that the church could be considered responsible even if it doesn't store the information. In the other case a person is just using a generic communications medium and the church organization isn't involved any more than if a phone call or text message were involved. From a technical standpoint (to a developer) they seem pretty much the same and both are equally likely (or unlikely) to divulge sensitive information. But from a legal standpoint they could be very different.
Brad O. wrote: I hope we can continue pushing for and come up with a solution to this, because I mean it when I say that a system lacking the comments loses at least 50% of its value.

I'm hoping that at very least we can have a mailto link saying something like 'Send Message to President' on the page where the results are reported. Then the church's involvement is limited to providing an email address, which they already do in LUWS, and the church web site is not explicitly soliciting information about people.
Brad O. wrote: Tom: Based on what you just said, it sounds as though Custom Contact Types is out of the question, too.
Based on Chad Fulmer's latest edits on the functional specs in the wiki, they do seem to be out, at least for the first version. Right now the specs indicate that only certain predefined contact types will be available (Visit, Phone, Written and None).
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#15

Post by russellhltn »

Just a couple of thoughts here:

It would be nice to have legal and programming get together to see what can be worked out. Both are very procedural professions, just in different areas. It seems like some kind of meeting of the minds should be possible.

The second, is this is all about risk/reward. And part of establishing that is to get data on adoption rates. So it may be necessary to deploy a watered-down RAR to see how many wards adopt it. I know use of LUWS seems to be less then what I would have expected.
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jbh001
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#16

Post by jbh001 »

Brad O. wrote:With RAR, the comments are never stored... they are Emailed straight through to the Presidency as if the person typing the comment had sent an Email. What is the difference between that and a person Emailing a confidential comment using their Email client?
Or a more apt analogy would be to determine how this is different from sending an email via the LUWS system. In what ways does RAR parallel the LUWS email system, and in what ways is it different? Knowing the answers to those questions would help clarify the legal issues and liabilities connected with various ways to implement RAR functions.
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#17

Post by russellhltn »

jbh001 wrote:In what ways does RAR parallel the LUWS email system, and in what ways is it different?
Maybe a better question is in what ways is RAR different from the written HT/VT forms we currently get from MLS? Sure, you can write in the margins, and some have some nice empty areas, but I don't see labeled blanks for anything except recording visited/not visited. Certainly I don't see anything marked "comments".

The problems may have more to do with the added functionality then the "how"/cyber aspect.
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fergie34-p40
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#18

Post by fergie34-p40 »

RussellHltn wrote:Just a couple of thoughts here:

It would be nice to have legal and programming get together to see what can be worked out. Both are very procedural professions, just in different areas. It seems like some kind of meeting of the minds should be possible.

The second, is this is all about risk/reward. And part of establishing that is to get data on adoption rates. So it may be necessary to deploy a watered-down RAR to see how many wards adopt it. I know use of LUWS seems to be less then what I would have expected.


I think that RussellHtn is right and it would be better to have legal and the programmers work on it at this point. Have this forum talk about it at this point services no real purpose because legal has the last word and no one here can speak for them.
Robert Ferguson
South Shore Ward, Plainview New York Stake
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brado426
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#19

Post by brado426 »

RussellHltn wrote:Just a couple of thoughts here:

It would be nice to have legal and programming get together to see what can be worked out. Both are very procedural professions, just in different areas. It seems like some kind of meeting of the minds should be possible.

The second, is this is all about risk/reward. And part of establishing that is to get data on adoption rates. So it may be necessary to deploy a watered-down RAR to see how many wards adopt it. I know use of LUWS seems to be less then what I would have expected.

Regarding your first point, that is exactly what I was thinking, but not articulating. I also feel that a legal problem was encountered, so a decision was quickly made to discard the functionality that causes the legal challenge. I think that an effort should be made to retain this functionality. There could be a disagreement as to how important these functions are for the system. I firmly believe that Teacher Comments and Customizable Contact Types are absolutely critical components. I reached this conclusion because I have spent countless hours working with hundreds of people and have learned first-hand how incredibly valuable these features are.

Regarding your second point, RAR was intended to provide those answers so that the Church wouldn't have to waste time with a watered-down version. Starting with a watered-down cancels out work that has already been done.

On a side-note, originally, RAR used mailto: and it ended up being useless because so many people do not have a local Email client, but instead use web services like hotmail.com/gmail.com.

Brad O.
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mkmurray
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#20

Post by mkmurray »

Brad O. wrote:I also feel that a legal problem was encountered, so a decision was quickly made to discard the functionality that causes the legal challenge.
From my conversations with Tom, it doesn't appear that the legal issues encountered would be new ones per se. Rather it appears the Church is already facing the alluded to legal problems now and then, and the real concern is that the addition of this feature would exasperate the troubles. I doubt the decision was made as hastily as you think. However, I think I agree with you that a more extensive exploration of the proposed feature (and secondary options) could help find an acceptable legal solution.
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