Grindr responds after sharing HIV status of users with other companies

05 April, 2018, 01:46 | Author: Sergio Cook
  • UPROXX  Unsplash

Grindr says it uses the two companies to make the app experience better for its users.

Because the information was sent with users' Global Positioning System location, phone number, and email address (which may include a user's government name and employer), the Norwegian nonprofit that sounded the alarm about this said that people's HIV status could be discovered.

Although Grindr said it would no longer share the data with outside companies, it would not confirm whether it would retroactively delete user data it shared with Localytics.

Chief security officer Bryce Case told BuzzFeed News on Monday it chose to stop sharing information with Localytics to allay people's fears. Pultier specified that the HIV data on Grindr is linked with other information and it may be due to incompetence from some developers that happened to send along all information including private and personal data.

James Krellenstein of AIDS activism group ACT UP told BuzzFeed News that Grindr's sharing practice around this data was "an extremely, extremely egregious breach of basic standards that we wouldn't expect from a company that likes to brand itself as a supporter of the queer community".

Scott Chen, Grindr's chief technology officer, told the Los Angeles Times that when personal information is shared, it "is always transmitted securely with encryption, and there are data retention policies in place to further protect our users' privacy from disclosure".

Grindr security chief Bryce Case said numerous concerns with Grindr's data-sharing practices showed a misunderstanding of what was being shared and with whom.

Apptimize and Localyptics, the two companies in question, seek to help other mobile companies including Grindr optimize their apps. These companies monitor how users interact with apps and make suggestions on what could be improved.

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He also pointed out that the information shared had already been made public by the users who added it to their profiles.

But some security experts say that this argument about whether the data was being sold to a third party for nefarious purposes or not misses the point: that HIV data is highly sensitive, and that sharing it with any outside companies is a move away from the security of its users.

Mr Chen explained that the "inclusion of HIV status information within our platform is always regarded carefully with our users' privacy in mind". The importance of transparency becomes incredibly clear in this example, as Grindr is experiencing a public relations nightmare despite having language that at least vaguely covered its practices.

More: Is Eminem really on dating apps Tinder and Grindr?

The news of Grindr sharing sensitive data comes on the heels of Congress' plans to grill Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg about a data breach involving 50 million of the social-media site's users.

No one cares about your efforts or industry standards.

"It is unnecessary for Grindr to track its users HIV Status using third-parties services", SINTEF said.

"We need to totally rethink the way we approach data - our digital trail and dDNA (digital DNA)". This is highly sensitive information that some people may not want to share with others, especially without knowledge of who exactly it is being shared with.

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