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Dating App Grindr Changes Policy of Sharing Users’ HIV Status

Grindr, a gay dating app, will stop sharing users’ HIV statuses with third parties after a report disclosed that the company passed the information on to two vendors.

The West Hollywood company’s policy change came after a BuzzFeed report Monday that said personal data was being passed to two outside vendors hired by Grindr to test the performance of its app.

The report comes at a time of heightened anxiety about digital privacy because of the data misappropriation scandal involving Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm that received unauthorized data from millions of Facebook users through an outside app developer.

Grindr’s vendors, Apptimize and Localytics, are fed user data that includes HIV statuses, GPS data, phone numbers and e-mail addresses that, when combined, could expose someone’s private health information, researchers told BuzzFeed.

In response to an outcry Monday, Grindr will stop sharing users’ HIV status to outside vendors, according to someone close to the company who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The policy change was first reported by Axios.

In a separate statement Monday, Grindr said it would never sell personally identifiable information to third parties, including advertisers. Apptimize and Localytics — services that help Grindr test features on its platform — are under contract to safeguard user privacy and security, the company said.

“As a company that serves the LGBTQ community, we understand the sensitivities around HIV status disclosure,” said Scott Chen, Grindr’s chief technology officer. “Our goal is and always has been to support the health and safety of our users worldwide.”

Chen said Grindr, which has more than 3 million users, only shares personal information when necessary or appropriate.

“Sometimes this data may include location data or data from HIV status fields as these are features within Grindr,” Chen said. “However, this information is always transmitted securely with encryption, and there are data retention…

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