Recognizing Privacy When Printing a Directory

Discussions about the Directory Tool on lds.org. Questions about the Directory on the classic site should be posted in the LUWS forum.
SunnyCal
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Recognizing Privacy When Printing a Directory

Postby SunnyCal » Tue Jul 16, 2013 9:17 pm

Directory Distribution to Membership.pdf
Suggestions for Printing A Ward Directory
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The attached document was created for my own stake as a guideline in creating membership lists. It is not to be considered policy rather suggestion. Graphics were obtained from the LDS.ORG Directory Helps.

Wards and Stakes often create membership lists for their members and distribute those lists to the general membership of a ward or stake. When the list is created using the MLS program - which offers a better format and thus is more pleasing to the eye - the list ignores any privacy requests made by the member. Creating the list by using the Directory function in LDS.ORG provides a means to create a list that recognizes any privacy settings made by either the member or a clerk/Bishopric member...

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Re: Recognizing Privacy When Printing a Directory

Postby RossEvans » Wed Jul 17, 2013 6:37 am

SunnyCal wrote:Wards and Stakes often create membership lists for their members and distribute those lists to the general membership of a ward or stake. When the list is created using the MLS program - which offers a better format and thus is more pleasing to the eye - the list ignores any privacy requests made by the member. Creating the list by using the Directory function in LDS.ORG provides a means to create a list that recognizes any privacy settings made by either the member or a clerk/Bishopric member...


But using lds.org as a directory source has a huge privacy downside of its own: It includes, without permission, the names of non-member spouses harvested from the otherwise confidential member marriage record. Such non-member names cannot be included in MLS directories without 1) obtaining permission of each non-member and 2) taking explicit action to enter the name.

The publication of directories by local units is governed by Handbook Section 21.1.15, which says in relevant part (emphasis added):

Directories

Stake and ward directories may be published according to the following instructions:

Names, addresses, and phone numbers may be included in a directory only if they are listed in a commercial telephone directory or, if they are unlisted, if the member gives permission. E-mail addresses may be included only with the member’s permission.

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aebrown
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Re: Recognizing Privacy When Printing a Directory

Postby aebrown » Wed Jul 17, 2013 7:56 am

RossEvans wrote:But using lds.org as a directory source has a huge privacy downside of its own: It includes, without permission, the names of non-member spouses harvested from the otherwise confidential member marriage record. Such non-member names cannot be included in MLS directories without 1) obtaining permission of each non-member and 2) taking explicit action to enter the name.

Good point. However, independent of anything discussed in the original post of this topic, clerks have an obligation to make sure the directory properly reflects the privacy desires of all members, including nonmember spouses. We have been given instructions as to how to remove nonmember spouses from the directory who do not want their information published there.

If clerks faithfully follow those instructions, then the Directory on LDS.org will indeed properly reflect all the privacy desires of our members. On the other hand, as near as I can tell MLS has no hope of ever incorporating the privacy settings from the Directory on LDS.org, so that route is a dead end as a comprehensive solution.

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Re: Recognizing Privacy When Printing a Directory

Postby RossEvans » Wed Jul 17, 2013 8:27 am

aebrown wrote:
RossEvans wrote:But using lds.org as a directory source has a huge privacy downside of its own: It includes, without permission, the names of non-member spouses harvested from the otherwise confidential member marriage record. Such non-member names cannot be included in MLS directories without 1) obtaining permission of each non-member and 2) taking explicit action to enter the name.

Good point. However, independent of anything discussed in the original post of this topic, clerks have an obligation to make sure the directory properly reflects the privacy desires of all members, including nonmember spouses. We have been given instructions as to how to remove nonmember spouses from the directory who do not want their information published there.

If clerks faithfully follow those instructions, then the Directory on LDS.org will indeed properly reflect all the privacy desires of our members. On the other hand, as near as I can tell MLS has no hope of ever incorporating the privacy settings from the Directory on LDS.org, so that route is a dead end.


But in practice, the default behavior on lds.org remains: All the non-member spouses names are published there absent special action. And clerks have been given no blanket assignment to identify all these records, affirmatively survey each member affected to ask if they want their spouse's name to appear online, and for those who don't take extraordinary steps to contact Local Unit Support and ask that each name be suppressed by special action. Hundreds of thousands of records are potentially affected, so this does not seem like what is intended. Can you point to anything in clerk training that tells ward and stake clerks to do this all of this routinely? We certainly don't. Nor are we given tools to identify such records online.

However, if local units decide to publish a directory using the lds.org data, then the instructions in the handbook do require such itemized research and solicitation of permission. So unless local units are prepared to take all these steps routinely, they are best advised not to publish directories at all, regardless of source.

The only real solution is for lds.org directory behavior to be changed to reflect the spirit of the handbook, or to change the handbook. (The Membership Department, which dictates the rules for lds.org, apparently does not feel constrained by the handbook provision, which in context arguably applies only to local units. But local units unambiguously have to follow handbood rules. If they publish directories based purely on the content of lds.org, they likely violate the handbook.)

Meanwhile, MLS does provide the means to handle the general issue of non-member spouses, because its default behavior is exclude them unless they expressly give permission. But MLS does not import all the other privacy preferences that members themselves have set online.

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Re: Recognizing Privacy When Printing a Directory

Postby SunnyCal » Wed Jul 17, 2013 9:21 am

I appreciate the comments. However, the original post intentions was to simply remind clerks of the capability of the directory feature in LDS.ORG. My purpose was not to try and cover all the bases or possibilities. But rather to encourage the creation of rosters that are to be distributed to the general membership to be created in a manner whereby privacy choices by individual members are maintained. Directory lists created in the MLS package do not recognize the privacy choices set by members.

As stated by aebrown there are other factors involved. We are planning on using the document in our stake. If it's helpful to others great. If not.....

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Re: Recognizing Privacy When Printing a Directory

Postby russellhltn » Wed Jul 17, 2013 10:56 am

RossEvans wrote:But using lds.org as a directory source has a huge privacy downside of its own: It includes, without permission, the names of non-member spouses harvested from the otherwise confidential member marriage record. Such non-member names cannot be included in MLS directories without 1) obtaining permission of each non-member and 2) taking explicit action to enter the name.

The publication of directories by local units is governed by Handbook Section 21.1.15, which says in relevant part (emphasis added):

From a technical letter-of-the-law standpoint, I agree with you. But from a practical standpoint, I don't.

If a member (or their spouse) doesn't want to be listed in the printed directory, I can't imagine they're OK with being listed in the lds.org one either. The printed list simply brings it to their attention.

OTOH, given all the privacy settings (person visibility as well as specific contact information) that the member themselves can set on lds.org, I don't think it's practical to anyone to sit down with a MLS print-out and redact everything that needs to be done.

I suppose you could sit down with a lds.org printout and redact things based on what's not in MLS. But I tend to think that's just hiding the on-line problem.

What the Handbook says and what CHQ does is in conflict with each other, but I think the suggested guideline succeeds doing something that is practical and defensible.
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aebrown
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Re: Recognizing Privacy When Printing a Directory

Postby aebrown » Wed Jul 17, 2013 11:22 am

RossEvans wrote:Can you point to anything in clerk training that tells ward and stake clerks to do this all of this routinely?

Sure. The handbook says that we are to safeguard the privacy of individuals (Handbook 1, 13.8).

If information is visible on the Directory on LDS.org that the individuals involved don't want to be there, clerks need to tell them how to hide it, or hide it for them. There's no time limit attached to this requirement. So it will require judgment as to how frequently we check up on this, but it needs to be done.

The issue of nonmember spouses is not substantially different from the overall opt-out nature of the Directory for the US and other countries. It is certainly the case that when the Directory first came out, there were people in opt-in countries whose information was displayed on the Directory who did not want it displayed. Many of those people didn't have the ability or desire to make changes themselves, so clerks did it for them. This is an ongoing responsibility of clerks. The same is true of nonmember spouses. They may not want their information displayed, and clerks can take care of hiding it.

I'll also agree with RussellHltn that there is no real difference between the online Directory and a printed directory; we need to respect privacy rules and individual requests the same in both cases.

I'll certainly agree that this particular behavior of the Directory creates complications for clerks, but it's a finite set of people to deal with, and it can be done. We've been given at least one reason why the Church has chosen to make it work this way, and it doesn't seem to be changing. We have a way to deal with it, and so we can and should do that.

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Re: Recognizing Privacy When Printing a Directory

Postby RossEvans » Wed Jul 17, 2013 11:23 am

russellhltn wrote:From a technical letter-of-the-law standpoint, I agree with you. But from a practical standpoint, I don't.

If a member (or their spouse) doesn't want to be listed in the printed directory, I can't imagine they're OK with being listed in the lds.org one either. The printed list simply brings it to their attention.

OTOH, given all the privacy settings (person visibility as well as specific contact information) that the member themselves can set on lds.org, I don't think it's practical to anyone to sit down with a MLS print-out and redact everything that needs to be done.

I suppose you could sit down with a lds.org printout and redact things based on what's not in MLS. But I tend to think that's just hiding the on-line problem.

What the Handbook says and what CHQ does is in conflict with each other, but I think the suggested guideline succeeds doing something that is practical and defensible.


You are presuming that there is a requirement for local units to publish a directory at all. You reason that given that assumption they should just ignore the language of the handbook, as well as the additional privacy harm to non-members, and publish it as best they can.

The conclusion I come to is that it is really not feasible under current circumstances to publish local directories that are compliant with the handbook, so units are best advised not to publish them at all until the situation is resolved. At least that would keep units from violating the handbook. It also avoids compounding the privacy damage to non-members. Right now, their names are being published online without permission. But at least the audience is limited to authenticated logins on lds.org. (Which, BTW, probably prevents the non-members themselves from seeing the directories.) Once the directories are printed by local units, it is more difficult to control dissemination of the printouts.

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Re: Recognizing Privacy When Printing a Directory

Postby russellhltn » Wed Jul 17, 2013 11:35 am

RossEvans wrote:You are presuming that there is a requirement for local units to publish a directory at all.

How should a ward accommodate a member that doesn't have a computer?

I'm not advocating printing 200 copies and leaving them by the door, but I think someone needs to print a directory for some members.
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Re: Recognizing Privacy When Printing a Directory

Postby RossEvans » Wed Jul 17, 2013 11:38 am

aebrown wrote:
RossEvans wrote:Can you point to anything in clerk training that tells ward and stake clerks to do this all of this routinely?

Sure. The handbook says that we are to safeguard the privacy of individuals (Handbook 1, 13.8).


My question was about training and tools. Your response is a generalized non-response. Nowhere (except in the bowels of this forum) are clerks even advised that the problem with non-member spouses exists.

There is no specific training, and no tools, for clerks to identify and track non-member spouses on lds.org, and further track whether 1) they have ever been asked for permission and 2) whether they granted permission.

The only way I was even able to analyze the scope of the problem in my ward was to write software myself to compare the directory downloaded from lds.org with the MLS directory. No such software is supplied to clerks generally. No tool is provided to track permissions.

Yes, the handbook does make the very general statement that we are to safeguard the privacy of individuals. I entirely agree. But with respect to directories, section 21.1.15 also provides very specific requirements about how to protect such privacy. I am the one arguing for following the handbook here. And the only way to do that is to perform very specific instructions about researching names and obtaining permissions. Absent such steps, publishing local directories violates the handbook.


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