Grindr, the hookup app for gay and
bisexual men, on Monday said that it would stop sharing HIV status
information with third parties.
Earlier in the day, BuzzFeed News
reported that Grindr was sharing sensitive information users choose
to include in their profiles, such as HIV status and “last tested
date,” with two companies, Apptimize and Localytics.
Antoine Pultier, a researcher at the
Norwegian nonprofit SINTEF, which first identified the issue, said
that the two companies were also given users' GPS data, phone ID and
email, making it possible for them to identify specific users.
“The HIV status is linked to all the
other information,” Pultier
said. “That's the main issue. I think this is the
incompetence of some developers that just send everything, including
Grindr told BuzzFeed News that
it was not selling the information, but using these software vendors
to improve their application.
“The limited information shared with
these platforms is done under strict contractual terms that provide
for the highest level of confidentiality, data security and user
Scott Chen, chief technology officer at Grindr.
Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey, a
Democrat, criticized Grindr. “Privacy isn't just about credit card
numbers and passwords,” he said in a tweet. “Sharing sensitive
information like this can put LGBT Americans at risk.”
Bryce Case, chief security officer at
Grindr, told Axios on Monday that it would no longer share
users' HIV status with its third-party vendors.
Case also said that Grindr was being
unfairly singled out.
He told Axios that there is a
difference between a “software platform we use for debugging and
optimization purposes” and “a firm that's trying to
sway elections,” a reference to user data that Cambridge Analytica
inappropriately scraped from Facebook.
Grindr recently rolled out a feature
that reminds users to get tested for HIV.