Geofencing Technology To Target Catholics At Mass

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Geofencing Technology To Target Catholics At Mass
Short Title CatholicVote Used Geofencing Technology To Target Catholics At Mass With Political Ads
Location Wisconsin
Date February 2020

Solove Harm Interrogation, Aggregation
Information Location, Computer Device, Preference, Knowledge and Belief
Threat Actors CatholicVote, Apps sharing location data with CatholicVote

Affected Church goers in Wisconsin
High Risk Groups Voters
Tangible Harms

A conservative catholic organization called CatholicVote that favors Trump is found using something called geofencing to find churchgoing Catholics and serve them targeted political advertisement.


Geofencing is a way of data mining that targets people based on their location. When a person agrees to an app that wants to share their location data, geofencers are able to capture that when the person enters or leaves a geographically prescribed area - in this case, a church.

If a person’s phone is on and they have an app open in which they’ve allowed the sharing of location data, the geofencers can capture their IP address and other data from their phone. This can be seen as probing person's phone for information if they are in the geofenced area.Interrogation This allows them to the target ads directly to that device. They can also cross-reference that data that they've acquired with other data sets, in this case, probably voter rolls. Aggregation

A conservative Catholic organization called CatholicVote was found doing exactly that to try to target Catholic voters. They have identified some 200,000 Catholics in Wisconsin. They're calling it the largest Catholic voter mobilization program ever. They've identified people who are regular Mass-goers to get them registered to vote and get them to the polls.


Threat: CatholicVote probing church goers phones for IP and other data through geofencing
At-Risk group: Church goers
Harm: Interrogation
Secondary Consequences: not known


Threat: CathilicVote cross-reference location data and voter rolls to target political ads at people
At-Risk group: church goers
Harm: Aggregation
Secondary Consequences: not known

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