Grindr Is Revealing Users' HIV Status To Outside Companies

Grindr Is Revealing Users' HIV Status To Outside Companies

Grindr shared users' HIV status, Global Positioning System data, email information and more with other companies without the users' explicit permission.

As we reported earlier, Norwegian research outfit SINTEF analyzed the app's traffic and found that - if set - a user's HIV status is included in packets sent to two app optimization firms, Apptimize and Localytics.

Additionally, the data on HIV status is bundled with other information that might jeopardize the privacy of a user, including phone ID, email, and GPS position. "That's the main issue", Pultier told BuzzFeed News.

Case added that all HIV status data was encrypted as it was sent, and now that the testing has been completed the data has been removed from Apptimize.

SINTEF warned that this information could easily be obtained through hacking, which could pose security risks to Grindr's 3.3 million daily active users. The company has said that LGBTQ groups and global health organisations have supported this as beneficial for the health and wellbeing of the Grindr community.

"It is extremely unfortunate that those men who have been courageous enough to share their HIV status, be it positive or negative, on their Grindr profiles, may have now had that most personal data indiscriminately shared by Grindr", said Michael Weinstein, the AHF president.

Critics scoffed at an explanation released by Grindr, which stated, "Thousands of companies use these highly-regarded platforms". "No Grindr user information is sold to third parties".

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Both the companies, which Grindr uses to improve the app's function and to test new features, are contracted to uphold user privacy and security, he added, saying personal information was only shared with them when necessary or appropriate. "Remember that if you choose to include information in your profile, and make your profile public, that information will also become public".

The company said the data sharing was "standard" in the industry and that it considers its app a "public forum". In the app, users can choose to display HIV status ranging from positive to positive and in treatment to negative or negative and on PrEP, an option Grindr meant to help foster open dialogue among users. Revelations about the data sharing may make Grindr users wary of disclosing HIV status and promoting safer hygiene.

But the app has hit back at the criticism and said that its "industry standard use of third party partners" was only to "test and validate" its platform.

Facebook's scandal involving information used by political advertising firm Cambridge Analytica prompted numerous social network's users to re-examine all the third-party applications they agreed to share data with, and showed how little they knew about the way the information was spread. As Grindr is an application that works to serve the LGBTQ community, it's important that we test out new features like HIV Testing Reminders to ensure these features are being utilized appropriately and not creating bugs.

His website allowed users to see who blocked them on Grindr after they entered their Grindr username and password.

The BuzzFeed report came at a time when anxieties over data sharing are high and questions over how third parities can misappropriate collected information, as was the case in a recent New York Times report about the political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica.

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