Request a clarification on usage of non-church owned websites

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brado426
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#31

Post by brado426 »

Folks,

I strongly believe that we should focus on data content. The method by which the data gets there is completely irrelevant. Just because the current policy doesn't specifically mention the manual entry of data, the end result is exactly the same. If uploading the data from MLS to a website is not allowed, I think manually entering the data from MLS shouldn't be allowed unless the Church specifically says otherwise.

Brad O.
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mkmurray
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#32

Post by mkmurray »

enriquer wrote:Bulk data no matter what method means that the scouting.org, ymyw.org, etc. sites are all in violation of current church policy then.
Tom W.,

If what Enrique says is true that these sites require sensitive data from MLS, does the Church plan to approach these sites and inform them of the Church policy regarding MLS data on non-Church hosted servers?
kalebpederson
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e-mail and other transmission methods...

#33

Post by kalebpederson »

brado426 wrote:Folks,

I strongly believe that we should focus on data content. The method by which the data gets there is completely irrelevant. Just because the current policy doesn't specifically mention the manual entry of data, the end result is exactly the same. If uploading the data from MLS to a website is not allowed, I think manually entering the data from MLS shouldn't be allowed unless the Church specifically says otherwise.

Brad O.

Yes. I think that follows the spirit of what's being discussed. Our stake has been using PDF based forms for a number of things. The forms are filled out and then, when submitted, e-mail the data to the appropriate person.

As soon as I found out about it, I asked about the information being provided on the forms and told them how insecure e-mail really is... but it is still in use. Technically, we are probably in compliance with official statements. It is not a church site nor an e-mail list and all information is, as far is I know, entered by hand. It is simply a set of PDF forms that e-mail data around -- data that in my mind should not be.

--kpederson
blackrg
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My 2 Cents

#34

Post by blackrg »

I'd like to add the following comments based on the comments already made and also my interpretation of church statements:

'The real issue is how is a non-technical local leader to make this determination given the lack of current "actionable or intelligible guidelines" from the church?' - the correct answer is revelation - the same thing that I presume prompted the guidelines from the church to begin with. I realize that church leaders are human, and they can make mistakes, but as long as they hold the positions they do in righteousness, it's our job to follow them - even if the techy in all of us is itching for a little freedom. We lack the authority to receive revelation for the organizations they preside over.

I think in large part here we seem to be driving at the technical details of the guidance where maybe we should be stepping back and asking about the intent of the guidance (just my 2 cents, and yes, I might be exercising my right to be wrong here).

All of these letters name websites. At least one of them names e-mail or e-mail groups. Since I feel fairly certain the church has no issues with HTTP/HTTPS/POP3/IMAP/SMTP protocols or HTML/MIME/etc formats I would have to believe what they were driving at is the content distribution since that is essentially what websites and e-mail allow for. When you look at it from content distribution you now spread the influence of the letters across the spectrum of all applications (as I believe it should be).

Now, what content is the issue? The easily identifiable items would be:
1. Anything representing itself as coming from the Church or a Church entity.
2. Anything out of MLS.

What, if anything else, is included?

Lets start pulling out some pieces of the letters.

March 15th, 2001 letter:

"... local church units and organizations should not create or sponsor web sites."

I added the underlining for emphasis. I think web sites can safely be replaced with "content". "units" and "organizations" will include pretty much any division within a local ward/branch you can come up with - and the local part makes it pretty clear they do mean down on the ward/branch level. Creating or sponsoring content I would interpret to mean pretty much the use of any non-church-approved application that requires the input (in any form) of some sort of data from our organization.

December 13th, 2004 letter:

"These Web sites contain Church-approved content, meet the legal requirements of copyrights and privacy, and can be recognized by the presence of the Church logo. No other sites are authorized."

I added the underlining to "content" and "privacy". Notice the word of content. I really think what they have to say about websites here they mean about any other application floating around out there too even if it doesn't use the HTTP protocol to communicate.

"privacy" I think this aspect has already been covered in this thread as the use of MLS data has been discussed.

"No other sites are authorized." - I really think this covers it. Note that the church added the underlining here.

"This restriction includes but is not limited to temples, missions, visitors' centers, auxiliaries,
quorums, classes, Scout units, and committees for special events. Any such Web sites or e-mail
groups should be discontinued immediately."

I added the underlining. Once you've drilled down to "quorums", "classes", "Scout units", and "committees", I think you mean pretty much any division or subdivision of a local ward/branch you can come up with. They say that any such "web sites" or "e-mail groups" should be discontinued immediately. I don't think they're going to name all possible forms, just the more popular ones, and the issue of "content" I've already mentioned so I think "web sites" or "e-mail groups" can be swapped out for "content distribution applications" to cover the range.

So, what's allowed?

Should you be e-mailing things back and forth when acting in a Church capacity and using non-church e-mail systems? Probably not.

Is http://www.scouting.org in violation of Church policy? Of course not, it represents an organization that is not part of the Church.

Is use of http://www.scouting.org a violation of Church policy? If you're promoting it's use as a church scouting leader of some sort in a way that involves the submission of church relevant information (your class roster) to the site, then you probably are in violation - if you're not, then no.

Is use of http://www.ymyw.org a violation of Church policy? Unless the church has made a specific exception for it somewhere, I would think the answer would have to be yes.

Is the use of a SSL secured ward mapping application that requires authentication and only allows the Bishopric in a violation of Church policy? Yes, regardless of how the ward data made it's way in.


Just my thoughts on the topic. Maybe I'm wrong, but perhaps I'm right.
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WelchTC
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#35

Post by WelchTC »

Please work with your local ward/branch and stake leaders if you have specific questions about some site or service that you want to use. Until I have further directives from the Church, I don't have much more that I can add.

Tom
tortdog
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YMYW.org was approved; Other Sites and Online Tools?

#36

Post by tortdog »

gblack wrote:Is use of www.ymyw.org a violation of Church policy? Unless the church has made a specific exception for it somewhere, I would think the answer would have to be yes.
Our stake just asked for authorization to use ymyw.org from SLC and it was approved.

I have a question regarding groups and, further towards that end, ning.com (social network). Probably everyone is aware of LDS Scouting on Yahoo groups. And our own council has formed a Yahoo group for Venturing that LDS leaders participate on.

But what about setting up a Yahoo group for a specific LDS unit (e.g., stake or ward)? Seems it might violate the policy as it's for a specific LDS unit and is public. But what if it's made private access only?

Along those lines, what's good for Yahoo would probably be good for ning.com. I know that one of our wards in our stake has set up a ning.com social network for the ward, but it's private so you can only see the name unless you are invited to it.

Assume in all the above that no MLS data is input (whether by import or manual). The question goes to having individual LDS units set up networks.

I assume that a ning.com social network for Texas YM Leaders would be okay, since it's not setup for any one unit, and merely is a resource for Texas YM leaders to use to coordinate scouting events and better their youth programs.

Last question - hoping this isn't rambling - regarding use of Google Notebooks and Docs. I have gotten into the habit of storing my notes and such in Google notebooks, and saving documents to Google Docs as it allows me to access them using my Treo from anywhere. They are password protected, and encrypted using secured connections, so is the use of those tools governed? And if we "share" them by giving access to "collaborators"?
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greenwoodkl
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#37

Post by greenwoodkl »

I don't have much time to formulate a response, nor do I think it would add much. But I would like to say that I don't think that these issues will be resolved until the Church provides authorized use of modern, functional web tools and apps currently available by third-parties, or internally creates authorized applications that provide enough functionality to be accepted by the masses.

LUWS, MLS, and other Church-provided apps and tools are unfortunately not keeping pace with the ingenuity and innovation of well-meaning members and others developing unapproved and third-party tools being used. Business factors of bureaucracy, time, and budgets within the Church are most likely all contributing to the seeming lack of progress in approved tools. Revelation most of us are not privy to may also contribute. Meanwhile many International areas have no approved tools or only some that those of us in the US/Canada may have.

I believe both the Church and the tech/developer community need to work together through this forum and other means to hasten the work of providing functional, modern, and meaningful apps to further the work and ease the administrative load of local units. Perhaps partnerships such as FamilySearch are pursuing in relation to tools could be arranged through licensing or other means until the Church can develop their own equivalent tools.

Enough rambling, I hope we can continue a meaningful and productive discussion regarding tools that assist all of us in our administrative Church work.
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WelchTC
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#38

Post by WelchTC »

The thing to be careful of with other web sites is the exchange of confidential information.

Tom
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#39

Post by tortdog »

Anytime we use an e-mail account on a server other than our own (SBC, Sprint, Google, AOL, etc.) this will be an issue, correct? Often times we send information on meetings, etc., via e-mail, and a copy of that information then sits on that e-mail server unless our e-mail client is set to download and delete from the server (sometimes the case).

As that e-mail sits on that server, the only thing protecting the data is a password or the security of the e-mail server itself. So I'm thinking that the same rule would apply to online storage of notes (Google Notebook) or other information.

Correct?

I'm not really asking for a policy. I am asking more what the unofficial sensitivity of the Church is to information being stored on password protected/encrypted servers such as Google Notes and such. It would be really hard to not be able to store any information online - even in a password/encrypted public server (though I could see that being a hard line).
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aebrown
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#40

Post by aebrown »

tortdog wrote:Our stake just asked for authorization to use ymyw.org from SLC and it was approved.
I'm curious what this means.
  • How did you ask (phone, e-mail, letter)?
  • Who made the request (stake president, a clerk, etc.)?
  • What department approved this use?
  • How was the approval given (verbal, letter)?
  • Was the approval in the nature of "We have no problem with any stake using that site" or "We give approval for your stake to use that site" or "Your stake may use that site as long as you follow these guidelines (followed by specific restrictions)"?
Since other units may have similar questions, it would be nice to know what process you followed.
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