Grindr under legal fire for sharing users' HIV status without consent

grindr class action lawsuit
grindr class action lawsuit

Uh oh, Grindr is in trouble again, and this time, it’s through a class action lawsuit with the High Court in London.

The law firm Austen Hays claimed that the app’s “covert tracking technology” deployed and shared personal information, including people’s HIV statuses, with outside parties. They say there are almost 700 claimants, though “thousands” of users in the UK may have been affected.

This isn’t the first time the queer dating app has come under scrutiny for this topic, either. Back in 2018, SINTEF conducted an experiment to analyze the privacy leaks from the app, and Buzzfeed posted a follow-up article that detailed how people’s HIV statuses and other personal information were shared.

At the time, Grindr said it would stop sharing HIV status information with other companies. But the new lawsuit indicates that isn’t wholly true. Following the mishap in 2018, the company was subsequently sued by Norwegian authorities for violating their General Data Protection regulations. It was slapped with a $6 million fine in 2021. Grindr was again reprimanded by the UK’s data watchdog in 2022 over its data protection practices.

Each time, Grindr has appealed the decision.

According to the BBC, Chaya Hanoomanjee, the head lawyer from Austen Hays leading the claim, said the claimants have “experienced significant distress over their highly sensitive and private information being shared without their consent,” and that “Grindr owes it to the LGBTQ+ community it serves to compensate those whose data has been compromised.”

The time in question for the lawsuit focuses on what happened before 2018. However, it alleges some data was also shared between May 2018 and April 2020.

In April 2020, the app changed its consent mechanisms and, according to the Guardian, would “respond vigorously” to the claim, with a spokesperson saying, “We are committed to protecting our users’ data and complying with all applicable data privacy regulations, including in the UK. We are proud of our global privacy program and take privacy extremely seriously. We intend to respond vigorously to this claim, which appears to be based on mischaracterization of practices from more than four years ago, prior to early 2020.”

As of this moment, the two main companies suspected in the leak, Apptimize and Localytics, have yet to respond to the claim. An estimated 13 million users frequent the app, which makes Grindr the most popular LGBTQ+ app in the world.