Grindr Fined For Illegal Data Sharing

The popular gay hookup/dating app Grindr has been fined 65 million Norwegian Krones ($7 million USD) for what Bloomberg Law calls “unlawful sharing of personal data with third parties for marketing purposes.”

According to Jusrist.org., The Norwegian Data Protection Authority (DPA)  “found that Grindr violated Articles 6(1) and 9(1) of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) for disclosing personal data without legal basis and disclosing special category personal data without valid exemptions. Grindr argued it had the consent of its users as a legal basis for sharing personal data, but the DPA disagreed and found that users were not properly informed about the company’s privacy policy and consent was not properly given.” Companies that received consumer data include MoPub, Xandr, OpenX, AdColony, and Smaato.

This isn’t the first time Grindr has had data privacy issues either. During the summer of 2021, Monsignor Jeffrey Burrill, who was an executive officer of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, had to resign from his job after the conservative religious publication Pillar somehow obtained Grindr’s data and published it – outing Mr. Burrill against his will.

An article from Vox recounting the situation said, “Dating apps are a rich source of personal and sensitive info about their users, and those users rarely know how that data is used, who can access it, and how those third parties use that data or who else they sell it to or share it with.”

A TIME article revealed that Pillar stated it received Mr. Burrill’s information from “Commercially available app signal data.” This not only goes to show that Pillar was undertaking an unethical slam-piece better suited for a tabloid, but also this it, sadly, was doing it legally…proving just how vulnerable and available user data is in the modern world of data-selling apps.

This kind of data selling not only violates privacy, but it also leads to fake news, radicalization, and tribalism. For example, Facebook sells your data for targeted advertising. Meaning someone who follows Donald Trump Jr. on Facebook will start to receive targeted ads from other right-wing groups, Fox News, Newsmax, and Republican politicians, completely altering their worldview and skewing how they believe the world operates.

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