While the company has made a push lately to encourage users to be tested and share the date it happened, they did not disclose they would be giving that information to third-party vendors. The company's policy states: "You may also have the option to provide information concerning health characteristics, such as your HIV status or Last Tested Date".
Because HIV information is sent alongside users' Global Positioning System data, phone ID, and email, an individual's status could easily be discovered, Antoine Pultier, a researcher at the Norwegian nonprofit SINTEF, told BuzzFeed.
Since the HIV info is sent along with a user's Global Positioning System data, phone ID and email, the details could also specify users and their HIV status, per Norwegian nonprofit researcher Antoine Pultier of SINTEF. "I think this is the incompetence of some developers that just send everything, including HIV status", researcher Antoine Pultier concluded to BuzzFeed.
The sharing of what many Grindr users view as private information follows a controversy over United Kingdom -based firm Cambridge Analytica's use of information from tens of millions of Facebook profiles to micro-target political campaign messages.
The app previously defended sharing sensitive data such as HIV information with third parties as customary practice to ensure better service.
In response, Grindr released a statement assuring its users that it will never sell personally identifiable user information to third parties or advertisers, explaining its sharing of this data as "industry standard practise".
Following BuzzFeed News's report, Bryan Dunn, VP of Product at Localytics, issued a statement clarifying his company's policy surrounding the data it receives.
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In his Monday post, Grindr's CTO vaguely said: "We too must operate with industry standard practices to help make sure Grindr continues to improve for our community". That information also includes email and telephone numbers, ethnicity, sexuality and relationship status, as well as Global Positioning System data, which can used to trace a user's location.
Grindr has been passing off the data to a pair of mobile analytics providers called Apptimize and Localytics, according to a Norwegian nonprofit group called SINTEF, which has been investigating the dating app over potential privacy leaks.
"It's important to remember that Grindr is a public forum".
"Professionals and users alike asked us for more ways to exchange information about things like HIV status, viral load, and PrEP use".
The researchers also found that the app had been sharing other user information such as Global Positioning System location, sexuality, relationship status and phone ID with advertising firms, in some cases not protected by encryption.
The revelation that Grindr shared sensitive personal data with third parties again brings up the key issue of informed consent, which also has recently dogged social network Facebook.
It is only the latest Grindr security flaw to be exposed in the past month after an exploit emerged that enabled Grindr users to find out who had blocked them.