This article was published on February 2nd, 2021
The Norwegian Data Protection Authority recently fined Grindr, arguably the most popular and used gay dating app, a total of $11.7 million for sharing private data of their users without consent. Grindr is accused of violating European data privacy laws by releasing tracking codes and precise locations of users to third-party advertising agencies. The app has also been accused of placing users at serious risk by sharing exact locations in countries where the LGBTQ+ community is not fully protected and can possibly face harassment or physical injury.
The controversy has brought attention to a years-long debate over privacy rights in the digital age. There are a myriad of questions that users might have to ask themselves now when signing up to a new program or application:
- How should users go about protecting their rights while online?
- What are you giving up and receiving when you leave personal information?
- Who and where is your information shared?
- How much privacy should be expected while attempting a lust connection?
HomoCulture sticks the tip into what this means for dating apps possibly in the future.
According to the Norwegian Data Protection Authority, Grindr shared the personal information of their users to at least five advertising companies by tagging people and not obtaining their consent. This is a clear violation of European data law according to agency rules, and the announcement of the fine has sent a message to other dating apps to be more mindful when it comes to releasing the data they retrieve through their users.
It is not only in Europe where data protection is a serious risk – in more conservative countries – particularly in the Middle East where same-sex acts are illegal – users could potentially be at risk of breaking the law and sentenced to death. The ramifications are evident and this fine comes nearly one year after nonprofit groups in Europe formally filed complaints against Grindr as well as its advertising partners that have data protection regulators.
Research has shown that some smartphones are able provide location information that is very precise and as a result, Grindr and other leading dating apps have revamped the process required for user consent. The company has maintained that it remains vigilant in its methods of protecting the privacy of their users. In a statement, Grindr added:
“We continually enhance our privacy practices in consideration of evolving privacy laws and regulations, and look forward to entering into a productive dialogue with the Norwegian Data Protection Authority.”
Grindr has until February 15, 2021 to officially comment on the ruling before it is finalized and the Norwegian agency is currently investigating if advertising companies that received the personal data of users from Grindr has used it and violated European data law.
Users of these apps should be aware of how their personal data is used and read the fine print before signing up and logging on. Unbeknownst to many, there is an entire industry that is dedicated to collecting and disseminating information based on a person’s location, spending habits, sexual orientation, physical and mental health, political views, and more. As these laws continue to change and evolve in the digital age, HomoCulture will continue to report on the latest news in the app world.