Grindr fined $11.7 million for selling user data without consent
Grindr is being fined $11.7 million by the Norwegian authorities for a privacy violation. The Norwegian Data Protection Authority pulled up the location-based dating app targeted predominantly at homosexual individuals for sharing user information to advertisers without their consent. Twitter's mobile advertising arm MoPub was also involved in the illegal data dealing. Meanwhile, Grindr has until February 15 to respond to the punitive ruling.
A 100 million Norwegian kroner fine was levied on Grindr for sharing critical personal information that included user location in addition to information about their devices. Investigations revealed that the information shared could potentially indicate their sexual orientation without consent. This has serious ramifications for the app's largely homosexual audience, many of whom prefer to keep their sexual proclivities a secret.
This isn't Grindr's first run-in with the Norwegian authorities. The company was suspected of illegal data sharing practices by Norwegian research firm SINTEF following its partial sale to Chinese video game development firm Beijing Kunlun Tech. Kunlun purchased the remainder of the company in 2018, which was followed by accusations of sharing unencrypted user information about their HIV status to third parties.
The Norwegian ruling against Grindr comes a year since the Norwegian Consumer Council (NCC) began scrutinizing the "out of control" advertising industry and its user profiling policies. The investigation primarily revolved around Grindr and its dealings with Twitter's mobile advertising arm MoPub. Grindr had promised to implement an "enhanced consent management platform," but its reconciliatory efforts couldn't shield it from being fined $11.7 million.
Grindr was founded by Israeli-American tech entrepreneur Joel Simkhai in 2009 and quickly gained mainstream attention after British Actor Stephen Fry showcased the app to a bewildered Jeremy Clarkson on the wildly popular BBC motoring show Top Gear. Preceding Tinder by a good three years, Grindr's then unique location-based matchmaking allowed its queer audience to match with nearby individuals with similar sexual proclivities.