Sunday, 15 July, 2018

Grindr is telling other companies if you're HIV positive

UPROXX  Unsplash UPROXX Unsplash
Nina Mathis | 05 April, 2018, 01:43

Popular gay dating app Grindr has recently come under fire for sharing the HIV status of its users with two third-party app optimisation companies.

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. "I think this is the incompetence of some developers that just send everything, including HIV status", said Pultier.

Disclosing HIV status is optional for Grindr users, and is visible to other users when filled out, but many users may choose to use the app anonymously.

"Grindr is a relatively unique place for openness about HIV status", James Krellenstein of AIDS advocacy group ACT UP told BuzzFeed News.

According to extrapolated data from a research analysis, it has been revealed that Grindr is sharing your HIV status (among other sensitive data) with two other independent companies.

The revelation drew sharp criticism of Grindr, with many slamming the upstart for sharing what many consider to be highly sensitive personal information with third-parties along with Global Positioning System coordinates.

Both Apptimize and Localytics do, indeed, specialize in maximizing the performance of mobile apps and have thousands of clients.




Bryan Dunn, the VP of product at Localytics, said the information his company receives meets industry security standards and his company strictly controls all access to its production systems. Grindr made the decision late Monday after defending its information-sharing practices earlier in the day in response to a barrage of criticism following revelations that sensitive user data like HIV status was being shared. 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. According to Grindr, it's to make the app better.

Ever since Facebook was caught in the midst of a user privacy breach scandal, it has opened a whole new debate: how safe is your data on the internet?

The app said the data - including when users were last tested - was not shared with advertisers.

"As an industry standard practise, Grindr does work with highly-regarded vendors to test and optimise how we roll out our platform".

"It is up to each customer to determine what information they send to Localytics, and Localytics processes that data exclusively for the customer's use".

Axios reported that Grindr had stopped sharing users' HIV status with its third-party vendors.

Users of the app are given the option to share their HIV status, as well as when they were last tested, and this information is readily available to others. Alarmingly, this data is "shared unencrypted, allowing people, companies, or governments to listen on a network to discover who is using Grindr, where they are precisely located during a day, how do they look, what do they like, what do they browse", the report noted.

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