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Grindr sued for allegedly revealing users personal information 

Photo by Rami Al-zayat on Unsplash

Grindr, the world’s largest LGBTQ+ dating app has found itself embroiled in a significant data protection lawsuit in London following allegations that private information, including HIV status, was shared with third parties without consent. According to a claim lodged at the High Court in London by law firm Austen Hayes on Monday 22nd April “covert tracking technology” was used to gather highly-sensitive information which was illegally shared with advertisers.

Austen Hayes, the firm handling the lawsuit at London’s High Court, says that there are more than 650 claimants and “thousands” of UK Grindr users may have been affected. The lawsuit asserts that personal data, such as HIV status and the dates of users’ latest HIV tests, were provided to third parties for commercial purposes.

Chaya Hanoomanjee managing director of Austen Hays and the lawyer leading the claim, said the claimants “experienced significant distress over their highly sensitive and private information being shared without their consent”.

Ms Hanoomanjee added that : “Grindr owes it to the LGBTQ+ community it serves to compensate those whose data has been compromised and have suffered distress as a result, and to ensure all its users are safe while using the app, wherever they are, without fear that their data might be shared with third parties.”

Grinder has asserted its intention to “respond vigorously” to this claim, which it believes to be based on a mischaracterisation of practices from more than four years ago, prior to early 2020.”

Grindr: Get The Facts composite image including Photo by Erica Marsland Huynh on Unsplash

Despite Grindr’s stated commitment to data privacy, the lawsuit alleges that tracking technology was deployed, facilitating the illegal sharing of highly sensitive information with advertisers. The claim also suggests that this breach of data privacy laws occurred between 2018 and 2020, involving third-party companies. Data analytics companies Apptimize and Localytics are named as third parties which had access to the sensitive data.

Grindr has responded, stating it is “committed to protecting our users’ data and complying with all applicable data privacy regulations, including in the UK.” adding that “Grindr has never shared user-reported health information for ‘commercial purposes’ and has never monetised such information.” the spokesperson added that “We are proud of our global privacy program and take privacy extremely seriously.”

Grindr had previously come under scrutiny in 2018 for sharing personal data, including HIV status, with third-party companies. While Grindr defended this practice initially, it ceased sharing HIV data with these companies. However, subsequent fines from Norwegian authorities and reprimands from the UK’s data watchdog indicate ongoing concerns about Grindr’s data protection practices.

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The dating app is used by 13 million people every month, and an Ofcom report from May 2023 found that it was used by roughly 924,000 people in the UK.

With over 13 million people globally using the app with an expectation of discretion and privacy the lawsuit represents a significant challenge for Grindr. With users spending an average of nearly seven hours per month on the app, the stakes for protecting user data and privacy are high.

As the legal proceedings unfold, the outcome of this lawsuit will not only impact Grindr’s future practices but also set a precedent for data protection in the realm of dating apps and beyond.

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