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Dating Company Under Fire for Handling of Gay Man’s Medical Data

  • May 27, 2024
  • 2 min read
Dating Company Under Fire for Handling of Gay Man’s Medical Data

A gay man alleging misuse of his HIV-positive status by the dating app Grindr has accused the tech giant of treating his personal medical data with disdain.

This individual is among nearly 1,300 people involved in a civil lawsuit against Grindr in the UK high court. The lawsuit contends that Grindr mishandled private information of its users, including HIV status and test dates.

The class action claim, seeking compensation and damages, accuses Grindr of breaching UK data protection laws by sharing sensitive data with third parties for commercial gain without user consent. Grindr refutes claims of selling or sharing user-reported health information, such as HIV status, for advertising purposes.

The man, who remains anonymous for legal reasons, alleges that after disclosing his HIV status, he was targeted with advertisements for HIV therapies on Grindr and other social media platforms. The lawsuit, coordinated by City of London law firm Austen Hays, suggests that information regarding users’ ethnicity, sexual orientation, and sexual activities may have also been shared.

In 2021, the Norwegian data protection authority fined Grindr €6.5m for disclosing user data to third parties for marketing without a legal basis.

Chaya Hanoomanjee, the lawyer spearheading the UK claim, emphasized the significant distress experienced by the claimants, including fear, embarrassment, and anxiety.

The affected user disclosed to The Guardian that he found his husband on Grindr and viewed the app’s launch in 2009 as a milestone for the gay community. While he valued honesty regarding HIV status on the platform for infection prevention, he expressed dismay upon encountering tailored HIV treatment advertisements in his online feeds. Grindr’s spokesperson refuted the allegations, stating that the app has never sold or shared user-reported health information, including HIV status, for advertising purposes.

The lawsuit underscores the importance of safeguarding user privacy and the need for accountability in handling sensitive data within dating apps and online platforms.

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Kasaine Lewis
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