LGBT dating app Grindr has apparently been sharing users' information with third parties, including users' GPS locations, HIV statuses, relationship statuses, sexuality, and gay subcultures a user might identify with, BuzzFeed News reports. Grindr claims the companies with which it shares the data — app optimizers Apptimize and Localytics — are "highly-regarded platforms" and that "these are standard practices in the mobile app ecosystem," but critics say that by sharing the information, Grindr makes it easier for hackers to access sensitive data, potentially putting users at risk.
"Some people's jobs may be in jeopardy if the wrong people find out about their status — or maybe they have difficult family situations," one user, Chris Taylor of Seattle, told BuzzFeed News, adding: "It can put people in danger, and it feels like an invasion of privacy."
Grindr has long promoted HIV awareness, offering information about free testing sites as well as opt-in reminders for semiannual testing. Users can choose to show other users their HIV status, ranging from positive to positive and in treatment to negative. "The HIV status is linked to all the other information," explained one of the researchers who helped identify the security issue, Antoine Pultier of Norway's research group SINTEF. "That's the main issue."
Added James Krellenstein, a member of ACT UP New York, an AIDS activism organization: "To … have that data shared with third parties that you weren't explicitly notified about, and having that possibly threaten your health or safety — that is an extremely, extremely egregious breach of basic standards that we wouldn't expect from a company that likes to brand itself as a supporter of the queer community." Read more about the investigation at BuzzFeed News.