"Ward List" iPhone App

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big2thumbs-p40
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I need this

#11

Post by big2thumbs-p40 »

As a bishop, I need to get sundry info on any member in my ward at any time. I'd prefer not to carry my big binder with the 90page report where anyone could take it and look at it. The MLS data base would be much safer in my iPhone than in my binder and much more portable and accessible.
I currently have the MLS on my iPhone in HTML format which is ridiculously large. A native app would be much better that has encryption and password protection.
Liam-p40
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#12

Post by Liam-p40 »

C.H.I. 2006, bk.1, p.151. "Many countries have enacted data privacy laws. These laws regulate the processing of personal data, such as the information contained in membership records or other records that identify individuals. To determine the extent to which such laws govern local management of Church records or to obtain direction in specific instances, local Church leaders should consult either (1) membership records personnel at the administration office or (2) the data privacy officer at the following e-mail address: dataprivacyofficer@ldschurch.org "
bradweech
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#13

Post by bradweech »

tomw wrote:We will contact the developer about this.

MLS provides an export of data for those authorized to use on their personal devices (PC's, PDA, etc.) for official Church work only. That data is to be kept secure at all times. However the Church does not approve of uploading that data to a non-church site, no matter how secure it is. There may be privacy laws that may inadvertantly be violated.

Tom

Tom, we contacted the "developer" of Ward List just the other day and got the following response. Can you give us an update on what happened and also, confirm that we should not be uploading MLS information to their web site?


From: Ward List [mailto:wardlist@teknonsys.com]
Sent: Tuesday, April 21, 2009 12:44 PM
Subject: Re: Church approval


The church does not approve or disapprove any such apps. They do, however, include the export function in MLS specifically for apps such as Ward List. The only stipulation is that the files be password protected. If you have questions about whether or not to use such a tool, you should consult with your Bishop and/or Stake President.

Having said that, let me assure you that the data is, in fact, secure. It cannot be accessed without the combination Unit Number and Password that you specify when converting the data. We also have an update (version 1.2.0) that is awaiting app store approval right now. We expect it to clear by the end of the week. This update give a little bit more security. Data is sent to specific devices (encrypted on the server as an intermidiary). Once the device has downloaded the database, it is removed from the servers and cannot be accessed again.

Let me know if you have any more questions.

Dave Yorke
Teknon Systems, LLC
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mkmurray
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#14

Post by mkmurray »

BradWeech wrote:Tom, we contacted the "developer" of Ward List just the other day and got the following response. Can you give us an update on what happened and also, confirm that we should not be uploading MLS information to their web site?
Tom has stated more than once on these forums that uploading MLS export files (and any other type of sensitive Church data) to third-party servers not hosted by the Church is requested to be discontinued. He has never waivered on this request and it hasn't changed for 2 years. That policy is still in effect and will be unless he or another Church representative say otherwise. If you want me to cite these posts by providing links, I can do so. One such post is in this thread. In addition to all of this, Tom specifically stated that legal privacy laws (not just Church policy) could be violated by using an import feature like Ward List has.

Dave is mistaken in stating that the export function in MLS is included "specifically for apps such as Ward List." Ward List is hosted online on a third-party server; no matter how secure it is, the Church does not approve of uploading MLS export files to such services. If Ward List were ported to a desktop application where you as the user could personally ensure of its security and keep it from being distributed, then this would be a different matter entirely. Tom specifically stated what the intent of the export functionality of MLS was intended for when he said the data is "for those authorized to use on their personal devices (PC's, PDA, etc.) for official Church work only."

I'm in no place to comment on any conversation or resolution that may have taken place (or has yet to happen) between the Church and the developer(s) of Ward List.

Hope this helps.
c-4-p40
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#15

Post by c-4-p40 »

I find it interesting the ward list site does not post a privacy policy for members to read. It is also interesting that they do not provide any details of how they maintain the integrity and security of the data. Protection by password is ridiculously weak!

Members beware!!
russellhltn
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#16

Post by russellhltn »

mkmurray wrote:Dave is mistaken in stating that the export function in MLS is included "specifically for apps such as Ward List."
I think the problem there is that so far this policy has only been communicated via tech.lds. Following other lines of communication could cause one to arrive at a different conclusion.
Have you searched the Help Center? Try doing a Google search and adding "site:churchofjesuschrist.org/help" to the search criteria.

So we can better help you, please edit your Profile to include your general location.
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WelchTC
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#17

Post by WelchTC »

We have contact the developer as well and asked for the process of uploading data from MLS to their site be discontinued. If people can figure out how to get the information to the iPhone without having to go through an intermediary server, that would be great. I can envision an iPhone app that embeds a browser and then grabs the data from the browser window and stores it.

It is always hard to ask someone who has done some fantastic work to stop doing that work. Fortunately, and hopefully, this project could find it's way into the new community Local Unit Website application.

Tom
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aebrown
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#18

Post by aebrown »

tomw wrote: I can envision an iPhone app that embeds a browser and then grabs the data from the browser window and stores it.
This is essentially the technique used by the "iWard" iPhone App (and the companion iStake app as well).
RossEvans
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#19

Post by RossEvans »

tomw wrote:I can envision an iPhone app that embeds a browser and then grabs the data from the browser window and stores it.

I don't understand this at all.

A browser-based scraper would be kludgy, but not that hard to build technically , at least until an undocumented web page is redesigned. Except, of course, MLS is not a browser-based client anyway. This could be done for LUWS.

There also are Windows scripting methods that can be used to drive apps via the screen. Again, kludgy but still automated.

If all someone wants to do is populate an iPhone app from MLS, and the user has authorized access to MLS export files, the developer just need to build an iPhone app that loads those files.

However, as a policy matter, I have a hard time distinguishing a browser/scraper app or script that automatically extracts data from a Church system from another app that just automatically loads csv exports or exported reports. Either way, an automated process to populate a third-party server would seem to cross the same line.
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aebrown
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#20

Post by aebrown »

boomerbubba wrote:I don't understand this at all.

A browser-based scraper would be kludgy, but not that hard to build technically , at least until an undocumented web page is redesigned. Except, of course, MLS is not a browser-based client anyway. This could be done for LUWS.

There also are Windows scripting methods that can be used to drive apps via the screen. Again, kludgy but still automated.

If all someone wants to do is populate an iPhone app from MLS, and the user has authorized access to MLS export files, the developer just need to build an iPhone app that loads those files.

However, as a policy matter, I have a hard time distinguishing a browser/scraper app or script that automatically extracts data from a Church system from another app that just automatically loads csv exports or exported reports. Either way, an automated process to populate a third-party server would seem to cross the same line.
There are a few advantages to the approach of scraping data from LUWS over MLS export files:
  • The data can be updated frequently very easily, with no interaction with MLS -- the iPhone only needs its normal Internet connection to connect to LUWS.
  • The data can be obtained by any member of the stake, without needing to request export files from a ward/stake clerk (which he certainly shouldn't give regular members anyway because of the confidential information in the export files).
  • The data is downloaded to the iPhone over https, using the same security that is used by stake members to view LUWS in a browser.
  • The data doesn't reside on a third-party server -- it just resides on the iPhone, which can be password protected to comply with standard Church policy regarding PDAs.
Of course the data from LUWS is not nearly as complete as the MLS export data, so priesthood leaders may well want an iPhone app that uses MLS export files. But the advantages above are certainly compelling for the basic data (and have the added advantage that iPhone apps exist right now that can do this).
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