Upon rolling out the new feature, the company's Equality Director, Jack Harrison-Quintana said that "Honesty, compassion, and education lay the foundation to make Grindr an even safer space for guys to connect, and we can all contribute to getting there".
App optimisation firms Apptimize and Localytics also received Global Positioning System, email address and phone number data which could be combined to identify users and their personal health information, the firm told BuzzFeed. "These are standard practices in the mobile app ecosystem", Grindr's CTO, Scott Chen, initially told BuzzFeed News in a statement that was later sent to Ars Monday afternoon. Any information we provide to our software vendors including HIV status information is encrypted and at no point did we sharing sensitive information like HIV status with advertisers. This, paired with your phone ID and Global Positioning System location, is likely more than enough to peg data to a specific person. It's fair to say, however, that the users would not have been expecting such sensitive facts to be shared with other companies. "This also applies to how the information is used by Grindr's service partners".
"The Grindr response is exactly the same [as] the Happn response we got a few weeks ago", Pultier told Ars.
Hours later, Case said that they would stop sharing the information with third parties. They don't want to acknowledge the problem for obvious reasons.
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According to BuzzFeed News, Grindr shared data about its users' HIV statuses and "last tested date", along with more general information such as their Global Positioning System location and email addresses, with app optimisation companies Apptimize and Localytics.
Grindr told BuzzFeed that the services provided by Apptimize and Localytics are meant to improve users' experience. Instead, Grindr includes it as part of their data-sharing with Apptimize and Localytics.
Critics scoffed at an explanation released by Grindr, which stated, "Thousands of companies use these highly-regarded platforms". When working with these platforms, we restrict information shared except as necessary or appropriate. A data analysis conducted by an outside research firm, and independently verified by BuzzFeed News, shows that the two companies receive some of the information Grindr users choose to share in their profiles, including their HIV status and "last tested date".
Federal law prevents companies and medical professionals from sharing someone's HIV status and other medical information outside of limited circumstances, but since users voluntarily share the information on their public profile, the law does not apply. Chief security officer Bryce Case defended Grindr's decision to share the data, arguing that Apptimize and Localytics are simply tools to help apps like Grindr function better, and that the information was not shared to make money or for other nefarious purposes.
Bryan Dunn who is the vice president of product at Localytics responded in a statement to the matter, explaining that his firm doesn't "automatically collect" a user's personal information.