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Scientology bragging on how well its Super Bowl ad did is the best thing ever

We want to thank our tipster who forwarded to us this gem from the International Association of Scientologists, bragging on the success of Scientology’s Super Bowl ad this year.

Scientology has been airing slick ads during Super Bowl broadcasts since 2013. This year’s commercial was unusual for several reasons, as we pointed out when it first showed up. As in past years, Scientology aired the ad during local spots in some markets during the big football game, but then in national spots during prime time in the weeks following. In particular, this year the church bought national spots during Olympics coverage on NBC.

The social media response, as always, was derisive. People are generally stunned to see a Scientology ad on their TV, and Scientology’s reputation has never been worse.

But Scientology isn’t really expecting to get a lot of new recruits out of these ads. Their purpose is primarily to convince Scientologists themselves that the church is reaching its goals of “clearing the planet,” and that they should continue to donate money.


And to drive that point home, the IAS put out this celebratory announcement about just how effective the new campaign has been. It’s a masterpiece of propaganda…


The first thing they list as evidence that their ad is having an impact is a “talk show host” extolling the ad as “the best!”

They’re talking about Daily Show host Trevor Noah, and we’ll let you judge how he expected his millions of followers to take this tweet…

And how about that amazing result in Ireland — millions of dollars of advertising motivated a single woman in Dublin to take a course! This planet will be cleared in no time!

Ah, they make this stuff too easy.


Hungary’s harsh assessment of Scientology’s privacy breaches

Yesterday we brought you a 129-page ruling from the Hungarian government after an investigation of Scientology’s violation of data privacy laws there.

Chris Owen pointed out that this was simply an English translation of the ruling which he wrote about at length last October.

But even though it’s the same document, Chris said a good English translation has helped bring out some interesting details…

There are some interesting nuances that I don’t think have been mentioned before. In particular, EU data protection legislation requires personal data to be processed in a way that is proportionate to the purpose for which it is being collected. But what exactly is the purpose of Scientology auditing? The Hungarian Data Protection Commissioner asked a “forensic clinical psychologist expert” to review Scientology’s practices. He concluded that “the E-meter, based on the parameters of its operation and use, cannot serve any religious ritual purpose because it is based on the principle of biofeedback technique; furthermore, it also a false statement that the Church of Scientology is not interested in the health state of the subject, because they specifically write about therapy in auditing, and, by the witness of the documents, they heal diseases, even though they regard them as ‘spiritual’ problems.” Similar considerations apply to Scientology’s Purification Rundown, as that is intended to have physical therapeutic effects (purging the body of toxins).

On that basis, the data being collected through auditing or for the Purif should fall under the category of medical data processing, which has particularly stringent controls due to its sensitivity. Scientology is judged to be misleading people by falsely presenting its activities as having medicinal effects when they do not. This may well be the weakest part of the decision, as Scientology auditing and the E-meter have been described as religious in nature by various scholars and national authorities (for example, relating to tax exemptions). Scientology would have a lot of ammunition to challenge this.

The biggest question the decision raises is not the fine – about $150,000 in US dollars, which Scientology can easily afford to pay – but the issue of how it complies with data protection rules going forward. The decision says flatly that swathes of questions, such as those used for the Life Histories and “Confessionals,” don’t have any legitimate purpose. It also requires Scientology to stop sending personal data abroad. Scientology would need to choose between abandoning those practices and violating Hubbard’s policies, or continuing with them and breaking the law. It’ll probably choose instead to litigate the matter to death on religious freedom grounds. However, it’s questionable how far Scientology would get in pursuing this argument. The decision points out that religious freedom does not overrule the rights of Scientology’s members to “know who uses his or her personal data, and when, where, and why so.” This is a sensible and intuitive point – congregants have just as much right as anyone else to expect that their data is being handled securely and lawfully. It’s hard to see what public interest could be served by giving religious groups a unique right to misuse the personal data of their congregants.

Let’s not forget that this relates only to *current* EU data protection rules. The forthcoming EU General Data Protection Regulation is even stricter and will present Scientology with even more data protection problems. Organisations all over Europe are going to great trouble at the moment to devise GDPR-compliant data management systems before the deadline. It’s very doubtful whether Scientology is doing anything similar. It’s trapped between obeying L. Ron Hubbard’s dictates dating back nearly sixty years or risking potentially devastating sanctions. Once the GDPR comes into force on 25 May 2018, lesser violations will be subject to a maximum fine of either €10 million or 2 per cent of an organisation’s global turnover (whichever is greater), while the most serious violations could result in fines of up to €20 million or 4 per cent of turnover (whichever is greater). That would be more than sufficient to wipe out Scientology financially in any country where the GDPR is applicable. Is it ready for that threat?

We also asked our man in Budapest, Peter Bonyai, for his thoughts about the ruling, in particular the finding that the servers that were accessed had data on approximately 70,000 people, which is very telling. If that is a look at Scientology’s international membership database — which includes a lot of inactive or former members — then it’s pretty much in line with with some former executives have been telling us.

About those 76,000 people: According to the context I have seen in the ruling, it should be worldwide, but I am not in a position to know that. It makes sense and in alignment with the various numbers offered by the ex-Scientology community.

This ruling is a part of a process. First of all, the data protection agency got some complaints from ex-members regarding the data protection practices of the Church. They investigated these complaints, found all this mess, fined the Church and ordered them to cease the illegal practices and comply with existing regulations.

As far as I know the reason it became a 129-page ruling was to make sure it will hold up in court. It’s a question of whether their right to religious freedom and practice overrides the privacy rights of non-Scientologists who appear in Scientology’s folders without their consent. An example: as you certainly know, the Church records every confession in writing, including every detail. If a Scientologists commits adultery and this comes up in a Sec Check, the auditor will note down the other party’s name (e.g. the neighbour’s wife) on the worksheet and eventually file this in the person’s folder. Now it becomes a problem as the neighbour’s wife certainly did not give permission to the Church to store this type of information about her. The Church will claim it is their religious practice to record every confession in detail, but does this give them a right to violate the privacy of unsuspecting non-Scientologists.

But, back to the point.

If this holds up in court, then the Church will be forced to cancel/significantly revise a whole lot of LRH policies (including fundamental ones like the keeping of worksheets, the ones regulating OSA operations etc.), redo all their consent forms, destroy all OSA folders that contain non-publicly available information, destroy all dead files, delete the names and personal data of all third parties from all PC folders and overhaul the whole way they handle addresses and contact information etc.

About your other questions:

– Life History Forms are illegal this way (it is simply not necessary for the Church to know all this information about someone to determine eligibility for a Church position) and have to be thoroughly revised. E.g. they surely cannot ask someone if they have any relatives working for any of the national security agencies.

– The data protection agency has no jurisdiction over banning the Purif or to enforce regulation of auditing by health care authorities. I think these parts were added for emphasis and to illustrate the essentially commercial nature of Scientology’s operations as a built-in argument for the judge.

If they refuse to do the above, they can be hit with repeated fines and eventually face prosecution and criminal charges (abusing personal information for financial gain or in a way that causes significant damage is a felony in Hungary).

And finally, when the GDPR goes into effect in May, they can be fined into oblivion (literally).


Make your plans now!

Head over to our HowdyCon 2018 website to start making your travel plans!



Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 5,040 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 1,643 days
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 186 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,249 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,023 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 2,797 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,143 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,637 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,677 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,389 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 915 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,004 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,144 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,464 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,439 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 795 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,097 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,203 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 1,606 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,478 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,060 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,565 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 1,809 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 12,918 days.


3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on March 1, 2018 at 07:00

E-mail tips and story ideas to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook versions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.

The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2017 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Undergound Bunker (2012-2017), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…

BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of L.A. attorney and former church member Vance Woodward
UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists
GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice
SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts

Other links: Shelly Miscavige, ten years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ


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