Grindr sued for allegedly revealing users’ HIV status

Grindr sued for allegedly revealing users’ HIV status

Grindr, the world’s largest dating app for the LGBT community, is being sued for allegedly sharing personal information such as people’s HIV status with third parties.

According to the claim, presented at the High Court in London, “secret tracking technology” was used, and highly sensitive information was illegally shared with advertisers.

Law firm Austen Hays said there were more than 650 claimants and “thousands” of UK consumers affected.

Grindr said it would “respond vigorously” to the claims.

A spokesperson for Grindr said the company takes privacy “very seriously”, and added the allegations “appear to be based on mischaracterized practices over the past four years”.

Austen Hays said, if the case is successful, the claimant could receive thousands of pounds in damages.

A claim form submitted to the High Court said the law firm hoped to claim more than £100,000 in total.

Chaya Hanoomanjee of Austen Hays, who is the lawyer leading the claim, said the claimants “suffered significant hardship because their highly sensitive and private information was shared without their consent”.

“Grindr owes it to the LGBTQ+ community that works to compensate those whose data has been compromised,” he said.

Dating apps are used by 13 million people every month, and an Ofcom report from May 2023 found that they are used by around 924,000 people in the UK.

It also has the highest engagement of all dating apps, with people using it for an average of six hours and 49 minutes that month.

Share sensitive data
According to the allegations, the company shared sensitive data with third parties for commercial purposes, in breach of UK data privacy laws.

It says it includes information about users’ ethnicity and sexual orientation.

The lawsuit claims it occurred mainly before April 3, 2018, although the data was also shared between May 25, 2018 and April 7, 2020.

It named data analytics companies Apptimize and Localytics as third parties that had access to sensitive data.

However, it says that a potentially unlimited number of third parties use the data to tailor ads to Grindr users.

In addition, it is alleged that the firm may then have retained some of the shared data for their own purposes.

It emerged in 2018 that Grindr had shared personal data, including users’ HIV status, with Apptimize and Localytics.

Those companies are paid to monitor how people use the app to improve it.

At the time, Grindr defended the practice, saying it was in line with industry standards — but it said it later stopped sharing HIV data with the company.

The firm said it never sold the data to any advertisers.

In 2021, the company was fined £5.5 million by the Norwegian authorities for breaching the GDPR (EU general data protection regulation).

It was found to have shared user data, without obtaining express permission, to third-party companies for advertising purposes.

In 2022, Grindr was reprimanded by the UK data watchdog over its data protection practices.

The Information Commissioner’s Office ruled that the company had failed to “provide effective and transparent privacy information to its UK data subjects in relation to the processing of their personal data”.

The BBC has contacted Apptimize and Localytics for comment.

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