IT Pro is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

Grindr says it will stop sharing users’ HIV status with third parties

Reports found that HIV information had been included in data shared with third-party analytics companies

Gay hookup app Grindr has said it will stop sharing information about the HIV status of its users, following a report that the company was providing private data to third-party analytics firms.

The data sharing with two companies Apptimize and Localytics was first uncovered by Norwegian non-profit SINTEF, and subsequently reported by BuzzFeed. It was argued that, because Grindr shared users' HIV information and "last tested date" alongside GPS data, phone ID and email, it could be possible for individuals' HIV status to be identified.

Grindr responded on Monday that it would stop sharing users' HIV status with any third-party companies. Speaking to BuzzFeed, the company's chief security officer Bryce Case said that HIV data had been shared with Apptimize only as part of Grindr's rollout procedure for new features; in this case an opt-in feature that would allow users to get reminders for HIV tests.

According to Case, the second company Localytics is "a software program that we use to analyse our own behaviour [] it's being conflated with Cambridge Analytica. This is just something we use for internal tooling."

While Case said he would "not admit fault" to sharing information regarding users' HIV status with Localytics, the company will nevertheless stop sharing data "based on the reaction a misunderstanding of technology to allay people's fears".

In a statement, chief technology officer Scott Chen wrote that sharing data with analytics companies is an "industry standard", and that the inclusion of HIV status information was "always regarded carefully with our users' privacy in mind":

"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."

Online rights advocacy group Electronic Frontier Foundation has called Grindr's response "disappointing", and accused the company of "leaking users' GPS locations over plaintext and sharing users' HIV status with companies".

In a tweet, US senator Ed Markey suggested that greater care needed to be taken when handling information about individuals' HIV status: "Privacy isn't just about credit card numbers and passwords. Sharing sensitive information like this can put LGBT Americans at risk."

Featured Resources

The Total Economic Impact™ Of Turbonomic Application Resource Management for IBM Cloud® Paks

Business benefits and cost savings enabled by IBM Turbonomic Application Resource Management

Free Download

The Total Economic Impact™ of IBM Watson Assistant

Cost savings and business benefits enabled by Watson Assistant

Free Download

The field guide to application modernisation

Moving forward with your enterprise application portfolio

Free Download

AI for customer service

Discover the industry-leading AI platform that customers and employees want to use

Free Download

Most Popular

Apple patches 'superpower' zero-days affecting iPhones, iPads, and Macs
zero-day exploit

Apple patches 'superpower' zero-days affecting iPhones, iPads, and Macs

18 Aug 2022
Why convenience is the biggest threat to your security
Sponsored

Why convenience is the biggest threat to your security

8 Aug 2022
Google is now spending a staggering amount on blockchain
Business strategy

Google is now spending a staggering amount on blockchain

17 Aug 2022