Grindr accused of sharing personal data, including people’s HIV status, with third parties

Graham Robson April 24, 2024

Grindr, the world’s biggest dating app for gay men, which is used by 13 million people every month, including 924,000 people in the UK, is to “respond vigorously” to a claim it shared personal information such as people’s HIV status with third parties.

According to the claim, lodged at the High Court in London, “covert tracking technology” was deployed, and highly sensitive information was illegally shared with advertisers.

Law firm Austen Hays says there are more than 650 claimants and “thousands” of UK users were affected.

A Grindr spokesperson said the company takes privacy “extremely seriously”, and added the claim “appears to be based on a mischaracterisation of practices from more than four years ago”.

Chaya Hanoomanjee from Austen Hays, who is the lawyer leading the claim, said the claimants “experienced significant distress over their highly sensitive and private information being shared without their consent.

“Grindr owes it to the LGBTQ+ community it serves to compensate those whose data has been compromised,” she said.

According to the claim, the company shared sensitive data with third parties for commercial purposes, in breach of the UK’s data privacy laws. It says it included information about the ethnicity and sexual orientation of users.

The claim alleges it mainly occurred before 3 April 2018, though the data was also shared between 25 May 2018 and 7 April 2020. It names data analytics companies Apptimize and Localytics as third parties which had access to the sensitive data.

However, it says that a potentially unlimited number of third parties used the data to customise advertisements to Grindr’s users. In addition, it is claimed that firms may then have retained some of the shared data for their own purposes.

It emerged in 2018 that Grindr had been sharing personal data, including HIV status of users, with Apptimize and Localytics. Those companies were paid to monitor how people used the app in order to improve it.

At the time, Grindr defended the practice, saying it was in line with industry standards – but it said it then stopped sharing HIV data with those companies.

The firm said it had never sold the data to any advertisers.