Grindr Busted Making 'Disturbing' HIV Revelations

Company admits it has shared users' HIV status with 2 analytics vendors
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 3, 2018 9:10 AM CDT
Grindr users probably won't be happy to hear this news.   (Getty Images/fergusowen)

(Newser) – If Grindr users share their HIV status on the gay dating app, they may assume that revelation will stay among themselves, potential partners, and Grindr. But BuzzFeed reported Monday that Grindr shared that data (including HIV status and "last tested date," as well as email addresses) with two analytics firms it uses, with the only notification to customers in the fine print of its privacy policy—an "egregious breach of basic standards," per an AIDS advocate. The Norwegian nonprofit SINTEF first uncovered the issue, with a researcher there blaming the sharing of info with app-optimization firms Apptimize and Localytics on developer "incompetence." An Electronic Frontier Foundation researcher notes even if Grindr has a contract with these firms to keep that data private, that sensitive health information now sits in yet another place, vulnerable to those with "malicious intent."

"I actually find this very disturbing and possibly sinister," San Francisco Supervisor Jeff Sheehy tells KGO. Axios reports on Grindr's reaction, which appeared on Tumblr to "clear any misinformation." CTO Scott Chen notes Grindr doesn't sell user info to third parties or advertisers, and that it only shares with vendors when "necessary or appropriate." He also reminds users that Grindr's privacy policy clearly spells out that information posted to Grindr could end up in the public eye, and that "you should carefully consider what information to include." Still, the company said Monday it would stop sharing customers' HIV status with third-party analytics vendors, per BuzzFeed. NPR notes a lawsuit against CVS Health for an HIV-related breach last summer in which thousands of letters were sent out with a reference code for an HIV assistance program visible in the envelope window.

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