Grindr has responded to public outcry after it was discovered the popular dating app was sharing users’ private data including HIV status with third-party app optimisation companies Apptimize and Localytics as a way of debugging software and testing new features like HIV testing reminders.
Bryce Case, Grindr’s head of security, released a statement saying that they stop sharing users’ HIV data with companies that “analyse mobile and Web apps.”
“Any information we provide to our software vendors including HIV status information is encrypted and at no point did we share sensitive information like HIV status with advertisers,” Case said. “As the testing of our feature is completed, any information related to HIV status has been removed from Apptimize and we are in the process of discussing removal of this data from Localytics.”
The personal data breach has become a concern to many HIV and AIDs organisations, DNA spoke with the chief executive of the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations Darryl O’Donnell.
“A person’s HIV status is personal information. It should not be provided to any other person without the individual’s consent.
“It’s very important hook-up apps allow people to share information about their HIV status. This allows people to be open about their HIV status and to negotiate sex safely.
“It’s essential app users have confidence personal information such as HIV status is handled sensitively and securely. This includes explicit consent for data sharing.”
In a statement to Pinknews Grindr CTO Scott Chen said:
“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.”
He further stated that there are strict contractual terms that surround how third-party companies use supplied information, which includes data retention policies to protect users’ privacy from disclosure.
Chen also made it very clear that Grindr is a “public forum” and that it is at the discretion of the user to post information about themselves.
Neither statement from Grindr included an apology for sharing users’ HIV status.