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Grindr faces huge backlash over sharing HIV status data with external companies

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The app responded to the outcry, saying they have been unfairly targeted for normal company practices

Anna Freeman

03 Abril 2018 17:37

Gay dating app Grindr has been forced to defend itself over sharing data about users’ HIV status with two external companies.

It emerged on Monday that Grindr had, among other things, provided information about HIV status to the companies, including when users were last tested.

Grindr said it felt the app had been unfairly singled out and that the data was shared in line with standard industry practices. The UK's Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) said it was investigating the matter.

The two companies that received the data, Apptimize and Localytics, monitor how users interact with the software to see what could be improved.

‘The HIV status is linked to all the other information. That’s the main issue,’ Antoine Pultier from the Foundation for Scientific and Industrial Research told BuzzFeed.

‘I think this is the incompetence of some developers that just send everything, including HIV status.’

Facing outcry after news of the data sharing came to light, Grindr’s security boss Bryce Case told US news site Axios that data sharing with third-party companies with the goal of improving the app, rather than selling data, was commonplace.

‘I understand the news cycle right now is very focused on these issues,’ Case said. ‘I think what’s happened to Grindr is, unfairly, we’ve been singled out.’

People using Grindr are given the option to share their HIV status along with the time they were last tested. This information is then made available to other users. It is also used for other purposes, such as reminders to be tested, and where to go.

‘It is up to each user to determine what, if anything, to share about themselves in their profile,’ Grindr said in a statement. ‘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.’

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