The Grindr Application Is – Grindr, which was pulled from the Apple App Store in China due to concerns about new data rules. Credit… Chris Delmas/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Administrators of Grindr, the most popular gay dating app, have pulled it from the Apple App Store in China over concerns about data regulations, the latest in a series of foreign exits from the Chinese market since the new rules.
The Grindr Application Is
Grindr services continue to operate in China, although in the past the Chinese government has taken steps to block services that do not follow their rules. In this case, the regulations include a new privacy law that requires permission from the Chinese government to transfer customer data outside the country’s borders.
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Headquartered in West Hollywood, California, it pioneered the location-based dating app. Grindr occasionally finds itself in hot water for its handling of personal data. In 2018, the gay, bisexual, transgender and queer social network faced widespread criticism for sharing HIV. status, sexual preferences and other personal information with third-party software developers.
China’s internet is one of the toughest operating environments for foreign companies in the world, with government-enforced censorship and disclosure that can force companies to hand over user data.
Recent laws in China designed to protect user data have made it even more difficult for foreign companies, which must seek government permission to transfer data abroad. State internet policing has also been stepped up in recent weeks as Beijing prepares for the Winter Olympics, which begin on Friday.
Grindr decided to pull the app last week because of difficulties in complying with the new regulations, said a company official, who declined to be identified. In the past year, many of the few foreign Internet companies still operating in China have taken similar steps. In October, LinkedIn said it would shut down its site in China, citing a challenging work environment. Yahoo soon followed suit.
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Like many large online services, Grindr is caught between the US and China. The US government forced Grindr’s former Chinese owner to sell the company in 2020 due to national security concerns about sensitive data stored by the company.
Paul Mozur is a journalist who focuses on technology and geography in Asia. He was part of a team that won the 2021 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for coverage of the coronavirus. More about Paul Mozur
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Grindr sold a 60% stake to Chinese billionaire Zhou Yahui for $93 million, though no major changes to the app are expected.
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Based in Singapore, Rahil Bhagat is a freelance technology journalist with a passion for consumer technology and startups. He is also an avid gamer and does not believe that celery exists. He tweets on the air via @rahilmb
Gay men’s social platform Grindr has just sold a controlling stake in the company to Chinese games company Beijing Kunlun Tech in a deal reportedly worth US$93 million (A$134 million, £64 million), it was announced on -early today. .
That brings the six-year-old startup’s valuation to around $155 million (A$223 million, £107 million) and marks the first time the company has received outside investment. A precursor to popular dating apps like Tinder, Grindr uses a smartphone’s GPS to find men within a certain radius of each other.
Meanwhile, Beijing Kunlun founder Zhou Yahui became one of China’s newest tech billionaires after his company listed on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange in 2015.
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The deal comes at a time when gay rights are an extremely sensitive issue in China, with millions across the country still stigmatized by a more conservative society that only removed homosexuality from the national list of mental disorders in 2001. This has led to services such as Blued, often referred to as China Grindr, attempt to use the Internet to circumvent outdated laws.
However, it hasn’t been specifically stated whether Grindr is coming to China. However, Grindr CEO Carter McJunkin told the New York Times that the two companies have agreed that the agency’s original operational structure and team will remain largely unchanged, meaning radical changes to the app based on these developments are unlikely. .
“We made this investment in our company to accelerate our growth, allow us to expand our services to you, and continue to ensure that we make Grindr the leading app and brand for our millions of users,” said Joel Simhai, founder of the app . in a blog post. Help keep it free Reader support helps keep our explainers free for everyone. Support our mission by making a gift today. x
Share all share options for: This story outside the priest is a warning to all about the need for data protection laws
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Sarah Morrison is a senior reporter covering data privacy, antitrust law and the power of Big Tech over us all for the site since 2019.
One of the worst-case scenarios for the barely regulated and secretive location data industry has come true: Data from an anonymous gay dating app was apparently sold and linked to a Catholic priest who has since resigned.
It shows how despite repeated assurances from developers and data brokers that the data they collect is “anonymized” to protect people’s privacy, that data can and does fall into the wrong hands. This can have dire consequences for consumers who may not have known their data was being collected and sold in the first place. It also shows the need for real regulation of the data broker industry, which knows so much about so many people but is subject to so few laws.
Here’s what happened: A Catholic media outlet called Column somehow obtained an “app data signal from the location-based hookup app Grindr.” It used it to track a phone owned or used by Monsignor Jeffrey Burrill, who was executive director of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Burrill resigned shortly before the column published its investigation.
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There’s still a lot we don’t know here, including the origin of the data in the column. The report, which described Burrill’s apparent use of a gay dating app as “serial sexual misconduct” and falsely conflated homosexuality and dating app use with child abuse, simply said it was “commercially available tag data for applications’ received from ‘data providers’. We do not know who these providers are or the circumstances surrounding the purchase of this data. However, it was reprehensible enough for Burrill to leave her position because of him, and the column said Burrill could face “canonical discipline” as well.
What we do know is this: dating apps are a rich source of personal and sensitive information about their users, and those users rarely know how that data is being used, who has access to it, and how those third parties are using that data or to whom sell or share it with. This data is usually supposed to be “anonymized” or “de-identified” – how apps and data providers say they respect privacy – but it can be quite easy to identify the data, which, as many studies show, both experts and privacy advocates have warned for years. Given that data can be used to destroy or even end your life – being gay is punishable by death in some countries – the consequences of abuse are as serious as they come.
“The damage caused by location tracking is real and can have lasting effects far into the future,” Sean O’Brien, principal researcher at ExpressVPN’s digital security lab, told Recode. “There is no meaningful oversight of smartphone surveillance, and the abuse of privacy we saw in this case is fueled by a profitable and thriving industry.”
For its part, Grindr told the Washington Post that there is “absolutely no evidence to support the claims of improper data collection or usage related to the Grindr app as alleged” and that it is “technically infeasible and extremely unlikely.”
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However, Grindr has been plagued by privacy issues lately. Internet advocacy group Mozilla called it “privacy-neutral” in its review of dating apps. Grindr was fined almost $12 million earlier this year by Norway’s data protection authority for providing information about its users, including their exact location and user tracking codes, to several advertising companies. This comes after a nonprofit called the Norwegian Consumer Council found in 2020 that Grindr had sent user data to more than a dozen other companies, and after a BuzzFeed News investigation in 2018 found that Grindr Shares Users’ HIV Status, Locations, and Emails. addresses and phone numbers of two other companies.
While it’s not known how Burrill’s data was obtained from Grindr (again assuming the column’s report is true), developers typically send location data
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