Grindr Is Letting Other Companies See User HIV Status And Location Data
SINTEF’s analysis also showed that Grindr was sharing its users’ precise GPS position, “tribe” (meaning what gay subculture they identify with), sexuality, relationship status, ethnicity, and phone ID to other third-party advertising companies. And this information, unlike the HIV data, was sometimes shared via “plain text,” which can be easily hacked.
“It allows anybody who is running the network or who can monitor the network — such as a hacker or a criminal with a little bit of tech knowledge, or your ISP or your government — to see what your location is,” Cooper Quintin, senior staff technologist and security researcher at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told BuzzFeed News.
“When you combine this with an app like Grindr that is primarily aimed at people who may be at risk — especially depending on the country they live in or depending on how homophobic the local populace is — this is an especially bad practice that can put their user safety at risk,” Quintin added.
But just because users are comfortable sharing personal information in their profile or chats doesn’t mean they want it being shared more broadly.
“Some people’s jobs may be in jeopardy if the wrong people find out about their status — or maybe they have difficult family situations,” said Chris Taylor of Seattle, who uses Grindr but no longer displays his HIV positive status on his profile. It’s “disconcerting,” he said, that Grindr is sharing this information with other companies. “It can put people in danger, and it feels like an invasion of privacy.”
But the average person may not know or understand what they’ve agreed to in the fine print. Some experts argue that Grindr should be more specific in its user agreements about how it’s using their data.