The announcement, first reported by Axios, comes after a BuzzFeed News report published earlier that day described how the app includes sensitive health information along with a person's Global Positioning System data, phone ID and email, and sends it to Apptimize and Localytics, both companies that optimize apps. What's more, even if Grindr doesn't have specific health data on you, this information might be enough to identify you as a user of a queer-focused app.
"If users of these apps begin to question whether it is safe to share information about their HIV status, they may be less likely to reveal it, which could potentially create more opportunities for STIs to spread", Justin Lehmiller, a sex and psychology researcher at the Kinsey Institute, told Vox.
The information available in plaintext to the companies includes users' screen names, Global Positioning System data, email address and phone ID.
Grindr is leaking users' Global Positioning System locations over plaintext and sharing users' HIV status with companies. "Moreover, these third-parties are not necessarily certified to host medical data, and Grindr's users may not be aware that they are sharing such data with them".
In a statement to BuzzFeed, Grind chief technology officer Scott Chen called Apptimize and Localytics "highly-regarded platforms", and defended the data share as "standard practices in the mobile app ecosystem".
"We demand that Grindr immediately cease and desist this reckless practice. and do whatever it can to retrieve, shut down or halt the further sharing of this personal and confidential information". "That's the main issue", said Antoine Pultier from the Foundation for Scientific and Industrial Research, in an interview with BuzzFeed.
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According to Grindr itself the app is used by 3 million people around the world everyday.
"The Consumer Council regard this disclaimer as unfortunate, especially when Grindr is transferring sensitive personal data about European users". As Grindr is an application that works to serve the LGBTQ community, it's important that we test out new features like HIV Testing Reminders to ensure these features are being utilized appropriately and not creating bugs.
Grindr also suggested that if users didn't want their data being shared with these companies, they shouldn't have volunteered it. When they did choose to, Grindr shared the data in encrypted form as part of "standard industry practice for rolling out and debugging software", the company said.
Grindr security chief Bryce Case said numerous concerns with Grindr's data-sharing practices showed a misunderstanding of what was being shared and with whom. Most HIV-infected individuals in China are drug users.
"Under no circumstances does Localytics automatically collect a user's personal information, nor do we require personal information in order for our customers to get the benefits from using our platform", Localytics product VP Bryan Dunn said in a statement to The Register.