The dating application Grindr has been sharing data on whether its users have HIV with two external companies, according to BuzzFeed and Norwegian non-profit research SINTEF.
Grindr users, which include gay, bisexual, trans and homosexual people, can indicate on their profile if they are HIV positive or negative, when was the last time they were tested and if they are taking HIV treatment or HIV. Pill to prevent HIV PrEP. But the application has not kept this information private: Grindr has been sharing people's HIV status and testing dates with two companies that help optimize the application, called Apptimize and Localytics, BuzzFeed . Because information about HIV is shared along with GPS data, phone numbers and email addresses, it makes it possible to link specific Grindr users with their health status.
In addition, according to SINTEF, the application has been sharing user information, such as GPS location, sexuality, relationship status and phone identification, with advertising companies. In some cases, this data was not protected by encryption.
Hours after the report of BuzzFeed & # 39; Grindr told Axios that he had made a change to stop sharing the HIV status of the users. . The company's security chief, Bryce Case, said Axios that he felt that Grindr was being "unfairly … pointed out" in light of Facebook's Cambridge Analytica scandal and that the company's practices were not they moved away from the Norm industry.
Grindr's technology director, Scott Chen, also said BuzzFeed that the "standard applications" for mobile applications to work with companies like Apptimize and Localytics, and that the data was shared "under strict terms that provide the highest level of confidentiality, data security and user privacy". He added that Grindr does not sell its user information to third parties. Still, security experts and LGBT advocates told BuzzFeed that the application should have been clearer about how it handles data, especially because it affects an already vulnerable community that is often the victim of harassment.
"Grindr is a relatively unique place for openness about HIV status," said James Krellenstein, member of the AIDS advocacy group ACT UP New York, BuzzFeed . "In order for the data to be shared later with third parties that you were not explicitly notified of, and that could possibly endanger your health or safety, that is an extremely flagrant violation of the basic standards that we would not expect from a company that would he likes to promote himself as an advocate of the queer community. "
Update April 2, 7:10 PM ET: This story has been updated to include that Grindr has stopped sharing data on HIV.