Accused of “betraying the LGBT community”, the dating application for gay community has allowed third-party companies to access the HIV status of its users. Grindr apologized to its users
The famous gay dating app Grindr was criticized on Monday for letting third-party companies access private data from its users. “As a LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer) community, we understand how revealing an HIV status can be a sensitive topic,” wrote Scott Chen. one of Grindr’s officials, in a text on the Tumblr platform, acknowledging that this could cause “concerns”.
“Our goal has always been to promote the health and safety of our users,” he continues, confirming that Grindr “works” with companies like Apptimize or Localytics, who test the application and receive Grindr data. These are “subject to strict contractual terms” of confidentiality, says Scott Chen, noting that users can choose whether or not to indicate on their profile their HIV status and it is therefore up to them to be vigilant.
While claiming to limit shared data to the bare essentials, Grindr acknowledges that “sometimes this data may include location and HIV status information because it is information that is in [the app].”
According to the Axios news site on Monday, citing security chief Grindr Bryce Case, the app has stopped sharing users’ HIV status with third-party companies. According to a Norwegian researcher SINTEF, whose work was reported Monday by the news site BuzzFeed, all this data shared by Grindr make people identifiable.
“Grindr has never sold or will sell personally identifiable information – especially HIV status data or the last test date – to third parties or advertisers,” Scott Chen also defends.
A response deemed “disappointing”
“Confidentiality is not just credit card numbers and passwords. Sharing sensitive information like these can put LGBT Americans at risk, “US Senator Ed Markey responded on Twitter.
The digital rights group Electric Frontier Foundation found Grindr’s response “disappointing”. “You have betrayed the LGBT community,” commented an Internet user under Grindr’s text.
Founded in 2009, Grindr, the free, which qualifies as “the world’s largest gay dating network,” was the first to use smartphone geolocation technology. The American group claims 3.6 million daily active users.
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This controversy comes as Facebook has been pilloried for more than two weeks, accused of not having protected the data of more than 50 million users, who have ended – via a third-party application – in the hands of a firm analysis of data that would have used them for political purposes.