Grindr dating app slammed for sharing users' HIV statuses with other companies

Gay dating app Grindr is coming under fire for sharing users’ HIV statuses with two app optimization companies.

In a statement released Monday, Grindr said that Localytics and Apptimize were paid to test and monitor how the app is used. “As an industry standard practice, Grindr does work with highly-regarded vendors to test and optimize how we roll out our platform,” it said.

The company added that the firms are under "strict contractual terms that provide for the highest level of confidentiality, data security and user privacy." Grindr says data that may include location or information from HIV status fields are "always transmitted securely with encryption."

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In its statement, Grinder said it’s important to remember it is a public forum and users have the option to post information about their HIV status and date when last tested. It says its users should carefully consider what information they list in their profiles.

Late Monday Axios reported that Grindr will stop sharing users’ HIV statuses with third-party companies. 

"We welcome the questions about our policies and always look for opportunities to improve," said Grindr, in a statement to Fox News. "As always, the trust of our users is the foundation of the Grindr network, and we are committed to maintaining that trust that we have established since Grindr started in 2009."

The data sharing was first identified by Norwegian nonprofit SINTEF, according to media reports. Privacy advocates slammed the dating app, with the Norwegian Consumer Council claiming that Grindr breached data protection law.

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Digital rights group the Electronic Frontier Foundation also weighed in on the row, saying that Grindr’s initial response was “disappointing.”

The U.K. Information Commissioner’s Office is looking into the situation. “We’re aware of reports of a data breach involving the Grindr app and we are working to establish the scale of any impact on U.K. users,” explained an ICO spokesman, in a statement emailed to Fox News. 

Grindr, which describes itself as “the world’s largest social networking app for gay, bi, trans, and queer people,” has 3.6 million global users, according to Marketwatch.

Data privacy is in the spotlight at the moment as result of Facebook’s data sharing scandal. Reports emerged last month that data mining firm Cambridge Analytica improperly used information from more than 50 million Facebook accounts, prompting the social network to suspend the U.K.-based company. Cambridge Analytica, which has ties to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential election campaign, denies any wrongdoing.

The scandal has already prompted a redesign of Facebook’s privacy settings. Cambridge Analytica has also agreed to a forensic audit by a firm hired by Facebook.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers