Gay dating app Grindr scorched for handling of HIV data

Grant Boone
April 5, 2018

Grindr, the popular dating and hook-up app targeted to gay men, is facing tough questions from United States senators after European researchers revealed that it was sharing user data with third parties.

Users are given the option of sharing their HIV status and when they were most recently tested.

Sintef, a Norwegian non-profit research company, said this meant that individuals could be identified as HIV positive by the analytics companies and put them at a greater risk from hackers.

"People may have signed the user agreement or acknowledged the user agreement that the depth of the data that was being shared, they may not have realized what they were doing", he said.

People who share their HIV status on Grindr are making a personal choice to share information with other Grindr users only. As a result, you should carefully consider what information to include in your profile. "We're aware of reports of a data breach involving the Grindr app and we are working to establish the scale of any impact on United Kingdom users", explained an ICO spokesman, in a statement emailed to Fox News. "I hope this will get app developers and other companies to rethink their promiscuous data-sharing practices". "Our goal is and always has been to support the health and safety of our users worldwide".

"It may be a commercial app, but as an LGBTQ app Grindr has responsibilities to the wider communities".

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However, he also drew attention to the fact Grindr is a "public forum" - noting that "if you choose to include this information in your profile, the information will also become public".

Grindr has never, nor will we ever sell personally identifiable user information - especially information regarding HIV status or last test date - to third parties or advertisers.

But in other comments, its CEO Bryce Case struck a more defiant tone, saying what had happened was "unfair" to Grindr and that the company had been "singled out". The company said it provided users with that option to "foster an open dialogue" about sexual health. San Francisco-based Apptimize and Boston-based Localytics, Chen said, are "highly-regarded software vendors", hired to improve the app and "are under strict contractual terms" to ensure user privacy and data security.

But in a unusual move, the app published another troubling statement in its privacy policy: "It's important to remember that Grindr is a public forum".

SINTEF also discovered Grindr was sharing its users' exact GPS position, sexuality, relationship status, ethnicity, and "tribe" - a slang term for gay subculture - to other third-party advertising companies in easily hackable plain text.

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