Google Doc sites - Are they ok?

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wsplawn
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Google Doc sites - Are they ok?

Postby wsplawn » Mon Jan 24, 2011 2:45 pm

Just wondering if it is OK for our ward to take advantage of Google Docs. That is, Google Docs (like Adobe Acrobat) has some functionality for gathering data. We think it might be a good idea to send questionairs to auxillary heads with regard to who've they've been assigned to help in rescue efforts. Have you seen so and so this week. Did they make it to church etc.

The responses to these questions automatically get posted to a spreadsheet at a sight that can be restricted to just people you give permission to.

Is there a problem with the church in doing this this way?

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allenblodgett
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Postby allenblodgett » Tue Jan 25, 2011 7:00 am

I would assume that there is no problem with that. It seems that the church av department uses it alot for forms.

busman
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Google docs is not really private

Postby busman » Thu Jan 27, 2011 6:10 pm

Google keeps an unbelievable amount of information on every query, internet search, and document ever entered on its servers. That information is available to Google and to government when requested from Google. I would be very cautious of posting any sensitive or financial information about the church or its members on Google Docs.

wsplawn
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Postby wsplawn » Thu Jan 27, 2011 9:43 pm

Thank you for responding.

>I would be very cautious

Well, that's the reason for the question. The way we have things setup, noone can see the spreadsheet except those who are specifically allowed. Nothing really personal is kept, not like things that only a Bishop should know, but we do have names of people who we are trying to help in ward council meetings, and some of the things we are trying in our effort to do so. It seems inocuous enough but I would like to not be doing something contrary to church policy. I was hoping someone from the church would frequent this site and give a definitive answer.

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Mikerowaved
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Postby Mikerowaved » Fri Jan 28, 2011 1:27 am

wsplawn wrote:I was hoping someone from the church would frequent this site and give a definitive answer.

This topic has reappeared numerous times in the forum (search for "google docs" or "cloud computing") and after much discussion with widely differing opinions, the answer is pretty much the same... We don't have a definitive answer.

There are too many gray areas with the few official policies we have to make a black or white call for every new situation. Local priesthood leaders have the lines of communication at their disposal to get the proper interpretation of policy for their situation. If you are seeking a cut and dry answer, that's where I recommend you go.
So we can better help you, please edit your Profile to include your general location.

kisaac
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Postby kisaac » Fri Jan 28, 2011 1:48 am

wsplawn wrote:... It seems inocuous enough but I would like to not be doing something contrary to church policy. I was hoping someone from the church would frequent this site and give a definitive answer.


I found it VERY interesting that in the calendar help of LDS.org it actually suggests google docs:

Currently the calendar does not allow you to attach fliers to events. However, this should not pose a serious problem since uploading and displaying files on the web is possible with another method. To attach a file to your calendar event description:

  1. Sign up for a Google account (or some other web service that allows you to upload files).
  2. Go to docs.google.com.
  3. .....
for the full text, go here:


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Mikerowaved
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Postby Mikerowaved » Fri Jan 28, 2011 3:10 am

kisaac wrote:I found it VERY interesting that in the calendar help of LDS.org it actually suggests google docs:

Oh my. I have a hard time believing that was screened by the church's legal department, but that's just my opinion. I can't imagine them being very pleased with a public facing flier describing in detail an upcoming Primary or youth event.
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tortdog
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Postby tortdog » Fri Jan 28, 2011 5:38 am

Our SP inquired on an issue similar, and was told by the respective GA that this is a matter for local authorities to determine. And, actually, hasn't that been the thrust, especially as of late? Direction SHOULD come from the local priesthood. Our stake uses Google Docs extensively. Every document used to create our big Stake YM events are stored in Google Docs so that when leaders change there is continuity, e.g., basketball tournament plans/schedules, Varsity tournaments for outdoors, plans for all past youth conferences. Our ward uses it as well.

We've also started using Agreedo to create agendas for meetings (wonderful tool).

With the Internet now in our clerk's office, the agendas and docs can all be updated anywhere by the leaders and then printed out locally at the clerk's office based on changes from meetings at the church that day. As soon as the 7 am bishopric meeting ends, we make changes to the online agenda for PEC or WC and then print it out in final form for the 8:30 am meeting. It's invaluable for us.

If a unit were to determine that Google Docs (or its equivalent) should NOT be use, then I'd also advise they stop using email to send any documents, because in essence that's all that Gmail (or other emails) is, i.e., a document archival service unless the user empties all sent/received emails and deleted emails consistently, and even then the data is still online for at least some portion of time. Every document that I've ever sent via Gmail is stored in my archive. EVERYTHING (which is wonderful since I can find information on all sorts of past activities, events, and notes for people no matter how much time has passed). If there's a danger that someone might hack into my account to get a doc saved by me in Google Docs, then there's also the same chance he gets to my online email archive and get the same document. In fact, the email archive is even MORE important since often there are personal items that are put into an email on a member's situation but would NOT be written on a document stored online and meant to be printed out.

If a person wants to make sure that certain information is never open to viewing by an unauthorized person (hacker), then stick to SMS (texts) or in-person communication (though even SMS is open to attack). All in all, I think some people worry about it mostly because they don't understand the 1s and 0s, and what data is. But if you did keep ALL your stuff offline, including the exclusion of email, it definitely reduces your risk of disclosure to near zero. Also, exclusion of electronic data means people won't be haphazardly printing out confidential items because distribution is limited to handouts (just don't leave that agenda on your books somewhere). My own view is that Google Docs and email increase the risk of improper disclosure but not to a level that is unreasonable. It's like going from 0 risk if you write nothing down to 1% if you use a typewriter, 1.1% if you email it and 1.2% if you use Google Docs. In other words, there are more important things to worry about than making things more efficient for everyone involved.

All very scientific methods, mind you.


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