Gay dating app Grindr has said it will stop sharing the HIV status of its users after reportedly sharing the highly personal piece of information – alongside GPS data, phone ID, and email – with third parties.
As first reported BuzzFeed, following data analysis by Norwegian non-profit research organisation SINTEF, Grindr has been handing out HIV status and ‘last tested date’ data to Apptimize and Localytics, which both help to optimise apps.
Grindr, founded in 2009, takes the unique approach of enquiring about the HIV status of its users to provide a more transparent dating experience within the gay community. Elsewhere, it was found that third party advertising companies received data relating to precise GPS position, the gay subculture users identify with, sexuality, relationship status, ethnicity, and phone ID in an easily hackable manner.
“All practices where a company has access to confidential information such as HIV status, sexual orientation or even information on deadly allergies, should be illegal to share with other parties,” said Evgeny Chereshnev, CEO and founder of Biolink.Tech.
“This type of highly personal information is like gold to hackers and can be used for blackmail, extortion or manipulation, where a lot of damage could be done to a person's life. If this type of information was discovered by a prospective employer, for example, it could cost you the job. In some countries, simply being gay is enough to get you killed, let alone not employed or fired.
“Our personal information needs to be owned by us; and only we should have visibility as to where and how this data is used, and on what basis.”