Two West Hollywood City Council members who are openly HIV positive have asked that the city's Lesbian and Gay Advisory Board invite representatives from Grindr and other gay sex apps to explain what they are doing to protect information about their users' HIV status. The company's policy states: "You may also have the option to provide information concerning health characteristics, such as your HIV status or Last Tested Date". In the process of doing so, it sent those companies its users' HIV status and "last tested date" along with Global Positioning System data, phone ID and email, according to BuzzFeed.
Antoine Pultier, a researcher at Sintef, told Buzzfeed that because the HIV information was sent alongside users' Global Positioning System data, phone ID, and email, it would identify specific users. "That's the main issue", Antoine Pultier, a researcher at SINTEF, told BuzzFeed. "I think this is the incompetence of some developers that just send everything, including HIV status".
The sharing of what many Grindr users view as private information follows a controversy over United Kingdom -based firm Cambridge Analytica's use of information from tens of millions of Facebook profiles to micro-target political campaign messages. "As an industry standard practice, Grindr does work with highly-regarded vendors to test and optimize how we roll out our platform", it said. This means some data is sent to third-party companies under plain text, BuzzFeed News reports, which is much easier to obtain and read due to its unencrypted nature. This allows for other important features, such as reminders to be tested and information on where to go to be tested. Now, Grindr says that if its users didn't want that information to be handed out to outside companies, they should not have put it on their profile in the first place, claiming "it is up to each user to determine what, if anything, to share about themselves in their profile".
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"We need more, not less, people living with HIV being visible on apps and elsewhere".
The second company, Localytics, is "a software program that we use to analyze our own behavior", Case said. However, at no point did the users give explicit permission for Grindr to share this information with other companies.
In a later update, Grindr said it would stop sharing users' HIV status when the app's next update is released.
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The description of "Person A" in court records matches Konstantin Kilimnik, who worked for Manafort's consulting firm in Ukraine. Yanukovych had imprisoned Tymoshenko, a political rival, after a gas supply controversy in 2009 involving Russian Federation .
Grindr was quick to hit back at the allegations though, telling BuzzFeed that data sharing is "standard" in the industry and highlighted the fact that the app has always been a "public forum".
HIV data had been shared with Apptimize to test a new opt-in feature reminding users to get tested, and ceased once the feature was rolled out last week.
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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.