I'll first mention the two official policy documents, and then I'll point out where the information is in conflict.
Handbook 2, section 21.1.22 states:
'However, members should remember that electronic communication should not replace opportunities for in-person contact, where feasible. . .
Members may not create websites, blogs, or social media profiles on behalf of the Church or to officially represent the Church and its views. However, they may create websites, blogs, or social media profiles to assist with their callings. When doing so, members must include a disclaimer such as “This is not an official website of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” and comply with the following guidelines:
1. Local priesthood leaders must first approve the creation of calling-related websites, blogs, or social media profiles.
2. The Church logo may not be used or imitated.
3. The name and contact information of the member who is responsible for the website, blog, or social media profile should be posted publicly.
4. Members should not state or imply that their online resource’s content, images, or other materials are sponsored or endorsed by the Church or officially represent the Church in any way.
5. Church-owned artwork, videos, music, and other materials should not be posted unless such use is clearly authorized by the “Rights and Use Information” page of an official Church website or by the Church’s Intellectual Property Office.
6. Photographs of other individuals or personal information should not be displayed without consent.
7. Social media properties must be properly maintained and actively moderated to ensure that any inappropriate content is promptly removed.
8. The website, blog, or social media profile should not be the name of a Church unit. For example, “First Ward News” or “Friends of the First Ward” is acceptable, while “First Ward” is not.'
I also found https://internet.lds.org/ , which states:
Remember the following as you plan to use a website, blog, or social media resource for your calling:
Local priesthood leaders must first approve the creation of calling-related websites, blogs, or social media profiles.
The Church logo may not be used or imitated.
The name and contact information of the member who is responsible for the website, blog, or social media profile should be posted publicly.
Members should not state or imply that their online resource’s content, images, or other materials are sponsored or endorsed by the Church or officially represent the Church in any way. Rather, the online resource should include a disclaimer stating that it is not an official, Church-sponsored product.
Church-owned artwork, videos, music, or other materials should not be posted unless such use is clearly authorized by the Rights and Use Information page of an official Church website or by the Church’s Intellectual Property Office. For copyrighted content from other sources, members must first obtain written permission from the content owner.
Other people’s personal information must never be displayed. Images or videos of other people should not be displayed unless the individuals have given written consent. (See “Additional Resources” at the end of this page for an example of a permissions form.)
Social media properties must be properly maintained and actively moderated to ensure that any inappropriate content is promptly removed. Having more than one moderator or owner will help ensure active monitoring and timely moderation.
Members should have a purpose and goal for the resource, such as community outreach, increased friendship between members, and so on, and the resource should be named accordingly. The website, blog, or social media profile should not simply be the name of a Church unit or individual. For example, “First Ward News” and “Friends of the First Ward” are acceptable names, but “First Ward” and “Bishop Davis” are not.
Websites, blogs, and social media profiles should not duplicate tools and features that are already available on LDS.org.”
There are also examples at internet.lds.org, including this example (among others), that constitute appropriate use:
"An elders quorum president needs to have regular contact with his quorum members, many who have limited Internet access.
After receiving permission from his bishop, the quorum president decides to use a mobile messaging app (such as WhatsApp, Skype, Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts, or Kik) to communicate with his quorum. After determining which of these services is most convenient for his quorum members—and receiving their permission to communicate with them on this platform—he creates a private list of those who would like to receive these messages. He understands that this is just one method of communicating with his quorum members and always follows up on important items by making phone calls or visiting in person. He never shares this group information with anyone else and quickly adds or removes anyone from the group who requests it."
They also have helpful examples of inappropriate use listed there, but none of those cases seem to apply to what we’re doing here.
Handbook 2, section 21.1.11, also states that some additional information is available in Handbook 1, sections 13.8 and 13.9, about the use of computers, but I don't have enough authority to have access to Handbook 1. Specifically, it states:
"To protect confidential information on computers, leaders and clerks should use the password features of Church record-keeping systems. Additional instructions about protecting confidential information are provided in Handbook 1, 13.8 and 13.9."
So, unless there's something in Handbook 1 that states that our current use cases are unauthorized, it appears that it is totally acceptable for me to create a web app using Amazon Web Services to:
- -automate sending reminders via email to EQ members regarding ministering interviews (as long as we allow them to opt-out),
-automate sending reminders via text message to EQ members regarding ministering interviews (as long as we allow them to opt-out),
-help keep our Excel spreadsheet or calendars in sync with lds.org (though I'd need to think about how we'd do this first),
-help us keep track of ministering interviews.
However, what's not as clear is that Handbook 2, Section 21.1.22(6) states:
'Photographs of other individuals or personal information should not be displayed without consent.'
which conflicts with internet.lds.org (6), which states:
'Other people’s personal information must never be displayed. Images or videos of other people should not be displayed unless the individuals have given written consent. (See “Additional Resources” at the end of this page for an example of a permissions form.)'
What makes this confusing is regarding the use of the internet for leadership purposes, such as among the members of an Elders Quorum presidency, who aren't displaying the information to members of the quorum outside the presidency or among members of the public but need the information to be displayed to each other to stay coordinated, such as (for example) regarding conducting Ministering Interviews.
I want to be clear that my goal is not to be critical of the Church policies. I think the policies are great, and I know that our Church leaders are inspired by God and are the best possible individuals who could be serving in their capacity, but like I mentioned before, this may have been a simple oversight. Alternatively, perhaps I just don't understand the language they are using in the policy definitions, but perhaps I am not the only one.
So, is it the intent of the First Presidency to allow or prevent the use of internet technologies to facilitate the sharing of information (that includes private member information) among auxiliary presidencies in this manner? If the intent is to restrict such use, to what extent is such activity prohibited? And if the issue is a security issue, are there security best practices (such as encryption in transit and at rest) that we can implement to protect such information to allow such use?
The interpretation from a member of my stake presidency is thus:
"I have read through your email, both Handbook 2, the on-line instructions and Handbook 1.
All of them seem to agree to me and state that you cannot put any members (or anyones) personal information on the Web without their explicit consent. If you do put it out there, then there has to be some mechanism that records and stores that Members consent. Also they have to be able to have the data removed ASAP upon request.
If it is a spreadsheet stored in the cloud that only specific people (ie: the EQ Presidency) have access to, then that does not qualify as putting it out there publicly and does not need consent from all the members. However if that document is accessible by anyone, then there is a problem. A really good guide to go by, is either LDS Tools or LCR and who has access to what.
I would strongly encourage the use of LCR & LDS Tools for the sharing of quorum members information as a whole (ie: Pictures, phone numbers, email addresses, dates, etc). I say this because the members can individually control what is seen and not seen about them and you do not have deal with it. I also know that you can send emails and texts to groups or individuals through those tools. But I don’t know of a way to automate that. I know of a few programmers who are working on tools to interface with LCR/LDS Tools to do so, but who knows when they will have them done.
Having a spreadsheet shared with only the quorum presidents & secretaries on say Google Docs used for coordinating interviews, that is fine. Just be really careful with who has access at any given time and limit the personal data as much as possible."
This is helpful to me, but I'd still like to be able to request clarification at the policy level, though I'm not sure who to contact (either in the Church technology department or elsewhere).
And just to be crystal clear, I am not the type of person who would leave the Church over something like this. I hope that nobody would ever leave the Church, and I especially hope that nobody would ever leave the Church over something as insignificant as this. I am simply trying to be as obedient as possible to the intent of the First Presidency, and because of my imperfect understanding of their intent in the published policies, I'm seeking to get some additional clarification, even if I never get a personal response and instead can just see an update to the online policies (though it would be nice if I could be notified if the policies were updated).
Does anyone have any suggestions?