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.

Advertisement - Article continues below

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".

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

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 case for a marketing content hub

Transform your digital marketing to deliver customer expectations

Download now

Fast, flexible and compliant e-signatures for global businesses

Be at the forefront of digital transformation with electronic signatures

Download now

Why CEOS should care about the move to SAP S/4HANA

And how they can accelerate business value

Download now

IT faces new security challenges in the wake of COVID-19

Beat the crisis by learning how to secure your network

Download now
Advertisement

Most Popular

Visit/mobile/5g/355712/nokia-5g-speed-record
5G

Nokia breaks 5G record with speeds nearing 5Gbps

20 May 2020
Visit/cloud/cloud-computing/355742/microsoft-launches-public-cloud-service-for-health-care
cloud computing

Microsoft launches public cloud service for health care

21 May 2020
Visit/software/video-conferencing/355596/house-of-commons-to-ditch-zoom
video conferencing

House of Commons to ditch Zoom in favour of British alternative

11 May 2020