Senators Question Grindr Over Privacy Practices

Lawmakers are questioning the CEO of gay dating app Grindr over a report that the app has been disclosing users' HIV status and other sensitive information to outside companies.

"Grindr collects highly personal data about its users -- information as sensitive as their health, sexual orientation, sexual preferences, and geolocation," Senators Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) write to Grindr CEO Zhou Yahui.

The letter comes one day after BuzzFeed reported that Grindr has been sharing data about its 3.6 million users with analytics companies Apptimize and Localytics. The data, including geolocation information and emails, could identify specific individuals, a researcher at the nonprofit Norwegian research company SINTEF told BuzzFeed.



Late Monday, Grindr said it would stop sharing data about people's HIV status with the companies, according to BuzzFeed.

The senators pose a series of questions to the CEOs of Grindr, Apptimize and Localytics about their privacy practices, including whether they obtain Grindr users' opt-in consent to use or share their HIV status and other sensitive information. Other questions include whether Grindr imposes any requirements on companies receiving data about users, and whether it takes steps to de-identify users before transferring information about them.

The lawmakers warn in their letter that the alleged data transfers "could lead to unlawful discrimination or worse."

They add: "According to the report, some of the data in question has been shared with third party advertising campaigns over unencrypted connections, which could leave this sensitive information vulnerable to cyberattack."

Markey and Blumenthal have given the companies until April 17 to respond.

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