Dating app Grindr has responded after it emerged that the HIV status of users was being provided to two other companies.
An investigation by BuzzFeed News revealed that the data was being provided by Grindr to Apptimize and Localytics, which help to optimise apps.
The HIV information was also sent alongside users’ GPS data, phone ID, and email, leading to fears that specific users and their HIV status could soon be identified.
The revelation was initially discovered by SINTEF, a Norwegian nonprofit research company.
Speaking to BuzzFeed, SINTEF’s Antoine Pultier said: “The HIV status is linked to all the other information. That’s the main issue.
“I think this is the incompetence of some developers that just send everything, including HIV status.”
In an effort to clear up any misinformation, we have released a full statement here: https://t.co/4qQHyHlkiO
— Grindr (@Grindr) April 2, 2018
Now, Grindr has responded to the claim – and vehemently defended their practices.
“Grindr has never, nor will we ever sell personally identifiable user information – especially information regarding HIV status or last test date – to third parties or advertisers”, Chief Technical Officer Scott Chen confirmed in a statement.
“As an industry standard practice, Grindr does work with highly-regarded vendors to test and optimize how we roll out our platform. These vendors are under strict contractual terms that provide for the highest level of confidentiality, data security, and user privacy.
“When working with these platforms we restrict information shared except as necessary or appropriate. Sometimes this data may include location data or data from HIV status fields as these are features within Grindr, however, this information is always transmitted securely with encryption, and there are data retention policies in place to further protect our users’ privacy from disclosure.”
Chen added: “As an industry leader and champion for the LGBTQ community, Grindr, recognizes that a person’s HIV status can be highly stigmatized but after consulting several international health organizations and our Grindr For Equality team, Grindr determined with community feedback it would be beneficial for the health and well-being of our community to give users the option to publish, at their discretion, the user’s HIV Status and their Last Tested Date. It is up to each user to determine what, if anything, to share about themselves in their profile.”