Metro Weekly

Grindr is Being Sued for Sharing HIV Statuses

Lawsuit claims dating app shared users' personal information with third parties, without explicit consent, for advertising purposes.

Illustration: Todd Franson

The gay dating app Grindr is being sued for allegedly sharing personal information — including users’ HIV statuses — with third parties.

In a class-action lawsuit, filed at the High Court in London, law firm Austen Hays asserted that at least 670 claimants — and “potentially thousands” of other users in the United Kingdom — had information about their health, sex lives, and sexual orientation shared with advertisers without their knowledge.

Those alleged actions violate the United Kingdom’s data privacy laws.

According to the claim, Grindr allegedly shared users’ personal information prior to April 3, 2018, although data was shared between May 2018 and April 2020.

The lawsuit names data analytics companies Apptimize and Localytics among the third parties with which the information was shared. However, additional third parties may have also had access to that data. 

The lawsuit also alleges that the third-party firms may have retained some of the shared data for their own purposes.

“Grindr owes it to the LGBTQ+ community it serves to compensate those whose data has been compromised and have suffered distress as a result, and to ensure all its users are safe while using the app, wherever they are, without fear that their data might be shared with third parties,” Chaya Hanoomanjee, the managing director of Austen Hays, said in a statement.

Austen Hays says that if the case is successful, claimants could receive thousands of pounds in damages.

According to the BBC, the law firm hopes to claim more than £100,000.

Other Grindr users could potentially join the lawsuit as plaintiffs, but they must have been affected before April 2020, when Grindr changed its privacy and user consent guidelines.

Grindr defended itself from the charges, noting that the allegations appear based on outdated misinformation.

“We are committed to protecting our users’ data and complying with all applicable data privacy regulations, including in the U.K.,” a Grindr spokesperson said in a statement. “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 a mischaracterization of practices from more than four years ago, prior to early 2020.”

Grindr was criticized in 2018 after the company admitted to sharing personal data, including users’ HIV statuses, with Apptimize and Localytics, which were paid to monitor how people use the app.

At the time, Grindr defended the practice, saying it was in line with industry standards and that the firms were under “strict contractual terms that provide for the highest level of confidentiality, data security and use privacy.” It later stopped sharing HIV data with the firms.

Grindr is used by 13 million people globally every month. An Ofcom report from May 2023 found that roughly 924,000 people in the United Kingdom use the app.

In 2021, Norwegian authorities fined the company 5.5m euros for allegedly breaking European Union data protection rules by sharing user data with third-party companies for advertising purposes without users’ explicit consent.

A year later, the app was reprimanded by the U.K.’s Information Commissioner’s Office, the country’s top data protection watchdog, for failing to “provide effective and transparent privacy information to its U.K. data subjects in relation to the processing of their personal data,” according to The Hill.

The Information Commissioner’s Office also accused Grindr of “infringing” on regulations requiring personal data to be “processed lawfully, fairly and in a transparent manner in relation to the data subject.”

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