Grindr is telling other companies if you're HIV positive

04 April, 2018, 01:56 | Author: Nina Hammond
  • Grindr is Sharing Users' HIV Status with Other Companies

Online rights advocacy group Electronic Frontier Foundation has called Grindr's response "disappointing", and accused the company of "leaking users' Global Positioning System locations over plaintext and sharing users' HIV status with companies". The site wrote an article, saying, "Because the HIV information is sent together with users' Global Positioning System data, phone ID, and email, it could identify specific users and their HIV status, according to Antoine Pultier, a researcher at the Norwegian nonprofit SINTEF, which first identified the issue".

On Monday it emerged the app had, among other things, provided information on HIV status, including date last tested.

Buzzfeed News reported that under the app's "HIV status" category, users can choose from a variety of statuses, which include whether the user is positive, positive and on HIV treatment, negative, or negative and on PrEP, the once-daily pill shown to effectively prevent contracting HIV.

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.

Grindr, which describes itself as "the world's largest social networking app for gay, bi, trans, and queer people", has 3.6 million global users, according to Marketwatch.

Users on Grindr are given the option to share their HIV status along with the time they were last tested - an option backed, the company said, by LGBTQ groups and global health organisations. He went on to say that "any information related to HIV status has been removed from Apptimized and we are in the process of discussing removal of this data from Localytics".

More news: VISA Applications May Require Five Years of Social Media Information

Grindr chief technology officer Scott Chen said in a Tumblr post that sharing data with partners was "industry practice" and that steps were taken to protect people's privacy. "As a result, you should carefully consider what information to include in your profile", the statement read.

The news comes in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, when whistleblower Christopher Wylie claimed the personal information of 50m Facebook users had been harvested without their consent and used to target them with personalised adverts using the 2016 US Presidential election. 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.

Case argued that the public is now more sensitive to data breaches in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica debacle, adding that some users were "trying to put us in the same camp where we really don't belong". That means HIV-positive users on Grindr could be identified and outed in a potential data breach. Nonetheless, the public outcry has compelled Grindr to change its policies regarding this sensitive data. He said that the third parties are under "contractual obligation" not to share the information with others.

"It is unnecessary for Grindr to track its users HIV Status using third-parties services", SINTEF said.

That move angered users who felt they didn't agree to have their data sent to companies beyond Grindr.

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