Location data obtained from a cell phone, obtained and sold by data brokers, has led to the alleged departure and resignation of a priest working for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. report Washington Post. The traffic data, which was linked to the priest and seemed to indicate when and where he used the LGBTQ dating app Grindr, was obtained through a publication and shared with a conference where the priest worked as secretary general.
This case is another example of how brokers can invasively collect and sell location and other personal information. While the information sold by these companies is seemingly anonymous, it has been demonstrated that individuals can be selected and traced. The data brokerage industry has been a concern among privacy advocates for years, especially as companies are stuck selling data law enforcement and government agencies. We have also seen how operators and other companies sell data to these brokers, with Grinder himself fine practice The Norwegian Government.
The priest’s story illustrates how that commercially available information can be used against someone and how a relatively unknown media industry can have profound consequences for people’s lives. It’s hard for many of us to keep track of who’s tracking our data – which makes it difficult, if not impossible, to prevent it from collecting and selling businesses we didn’t know could access them.