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Having an app that wraps itself in the rainbow flag passing on that status to third parties without their consent is a betrayal.” “One prominent LGBTQ activist put it to me that this was Cambridge Analytica for the LGBTQ communities,” Jones added, using a variant of LGBT where Q stands for “queer” or “questioning.” [Trump administration fires all members of HIV/AIDS advisory council] Case said there shouldn’t be any comparison between Grindr and Cambridge Analytica, a British data firm that worked for President Trump’s campaign and is now under criticism over reports that it improperly accessed the personal information of tens of millions of Facebook users.
“There is a major difference between a company like Grindr sharing encrypted data with a software vendor to debug its app, and having it harvested from an outside third party like Cambridge Analytica, which is not what is happening here,” Case said.
“Privacy isn’t just about credit card numbers and passwords. In a piece in the Guardian, British columnist and book author Owen Jones called the data-sharing an act of betrayal.
Sharing sensitive information like this can put LGBT Americans at risk,” Sen. “It may be a commercial app, but as an LGBTQ app Grindr has responsibilities to the wider communities.
Bryce Case, Grindr’s head of security, said that sharing information with Apptimize and Localytics is “standard industry practice for rolling out and debugging software” and was done securely to test and optimize the app’s features, such as HIV testing reminders.
“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 in a statement.
Senators Edward Markey, D-Mass., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said Tuesday they sent a letter to the CEOs of Grindr, Apptimize and Localytics asking about their policies protecting users' data, such as whether they obtained opt-in consent before sharing or selling the data and what privacy requirements they made of third parties.
Plans to halt the data sharing followed a report by Buzzfeed News — citing research from Norwegian non-profit SINTEF — that the app was was passing on users' HIV information along with their GPS data, phone ID and email, which could make it possible for the companies to identify sensitive information about specific users.That does not include sharing something as profoundly personal (and still stigmatized) as HIV status,” Jones wrote.“If people wish to be open about their status on Grindr, that should be applauded and celebrated.That’s the main issue,” Antoine Pultier, a researcher at SINTEF, told Buzz Feed.“I think this is the incompetence of some developers that just send everything, including HIV status.” The findings raised concerns among advocacy groups and cybersecurity experts who told Buzz Feed that the sharing of information could put users at risk, especially if they live in countries that are unfriendly to gay men.Gay dating app Grinder said it will stop sharing information about users’ HIV status with third parties following a huge public outcry.The app came under fire after it admitted sharing data with analytics companies, Localytics and Appitmize, which were paid to test and monitor how the app is used.The decision comes after Buzz Feed reported Monday that Grindr, which has 3.6 million daily active users worldwide, has been providing HIV status and “last tested date” — information that Grindr users choose to include in their profiles — to two analytics companies.The report prompted a backlash among some users and advocacy groups that consider the sharing of data a breach of users’ trust.However, the company told Buzz Feed that it planned to halt the practice imminently to "allay people's fears".The hook-up app's chief security officer Bryn Case said the media had "conflated the issue" by putting Grindr's practice in the same camp as Facebook's Cambridge Analytica scandal; in which the data of 50 million users is alleged to have been harvested in order to obstruct democracy.