Grindr shares users' HIV status with third-party companies

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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". Grindr made the decision late Monday after defending its information-sharing practices earlier in the day in response to a barrage of criticism following revelations that sensitive user data like HIV status was being shared.

Despite the privacy policy language, Grindr's head of security responded to the allegations yesterday by stating that it would cease sending users' HIV status to third party companies.

What's more, the app has been sharing users' info - like Global Positioning System location, sexuality, relationship status, and phone ID - with advertising companies, according to SINTEF.

Sensitive data are encrypted when sent, and vendors are under strict contractual terms to keep it secure and confidential, according to Chen. "That's the main issue", Pultier said to BuzzFeed News.

"Grindr is a relatively unique place for openness about HIV status", said James Krellenstein, a member of AIDS advocacy group ACT UP New York.

In his Monday post, Grindr's CTO vaguely said: "We too must operate with industry standard practices to help make sure Grindr continues to improve for our community".

Apptimize and Localytics, companies that help "optimize" apps, are being sent Grindr users' HIV status and the date they were last tested if it is included in their profile. Nonetheless, the public outcry has compelled Grindr to change its policies regarding this sensitive data.

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Given that Grindr boasts 3.6 million daily active users around the world, this is not a good look for the American-based company.

Gay dating app Grindr has admitted to sharing its users' private health data. It also has a app tool that can remind users to get tested every three to six months.

But some Grindr users reacted angrily to this admission it shared personal data, with one user asking what other information Grindr had shared with other firms, and they were only admitting this after getting caught. But in context, this is a clear reference to the disclosure of information to others on Grindr, and through the medium of the app.

Grindr has since said it will stop sharing the information.

Also, Aidsmap noted that "if someone tells, or attempts to tell, anyone about an individual's HIV status without his or her consent after this had been confided in trust, then this is likely to be a 'breach of confidence.'" In the past, this has applied to individuals telling other people about someone's HIV status.

The news follows Grindr's fix of a security flaw that allowed users to see who has blocked them. And the more data points you choose to reveal about yourself, and the more honest you are about each of them-your name, your photo, your location, your occupation, your interests, your political leanings, your religious beliefs, your dating preferences, and your health characteristics-the more immersive and enjoyable the experience becomes.

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