In 2021, social media platforms and messaging services are coming under greater scrutiny in terms of how they handle or share user data. The latest to come under the spotlight is Grindr, which has been cited for illegally sharing user data with advertisers by the Norwegian Data Protection Authority.
According to a report from The New York Times (paywall), Grindr has been fined as a result, with the amount estimated at $11.7 million.
In its findings, the Norwegian Authority discovered that the chat/dating app was found to be sharing three specific types of data with advertisers, none of which was explained to Grindr users in the region. Consequently, three complaints were levelled against the app, including sharing personal information, location/device information and the location of users at unspecified times.
The Authority added that the information that was being shared could potentially be linked to the user’s sexual orientation without their consent, and in some cases be used to disclose their orientation or sexual preference illegally.
As such, it is a rather concerning practice, especially as such information may not be something that Grindr users want publicly disclosed.
The app company, however, sees rather relaxed about the discovery and the fine.
“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,” Bill Shafton, Grindr’s VP of business and legal affairs told The Verge in an official statement.
As we have reported on in the past, this isn’t the first time that Grindr has been lax when it comes to user information and how easy it is to expose, with HIV statuses being shared with two companies in early 2018, a practice that it says it has since stopped. This was followed by an email address-linked security flaw was discovered and patched in October of last year.
Grindr has until 15th February to comment on the fine, but no timeline has been outlined as to payment or indeed shutting down the newly discovered data sharing practice. With users all to happy to jump ship from massive platforms like WhatsApp in 2021, Grindr needs to get things in order less it suffers the same fate.