HIV information along with their Global Positioning System data, phone ID and email, which could make it possible for the companies to identify sensitive information about specific users.
In the process of doing so, it sent those companies its users' HIV status and "last tested date" along with Global Positioning System data, phone ID and email, according to BuzzFeed. "I think this is the incompetence of some developers that just send everything, including HIV status", researcher Antoine Pultier concluded to BuzzFeed.
Grindr was founded in 2009 by Joel Simkhai and has more than 3 million users.
The data sharing, which Grindr says was legitimate and carried out according to industry standards, was discovered by Norwegian research group Sintef.
Scott Chen, Grindr's chief technology officer, told the Los Angeles Times that when personal information is shared, it "is always transmitted securely with encryption, and there are data retention policies in place to further protect our users' privacy from disclosure".
The revelation drew sharp criticism of Grindr, with many slamming the upstart for sharing what many consider to be highly sensitive personal information with third-parties along with Global Positioning System coordinates.
"Any information we provide to our software vendors including HIV status information is encrypted and at no point did we sharing sensitive information like HIV status with advertisers", Case said in the statement.
These aren't advertising companies but rather services for testing and improving mobile apps - Grindr isn't selling them this data or anything. The app's security chief has since said the practice will stop. "As a result, you should carefully consider what information to include in your profile", the statement read. But the app has not been keeping this info private: Grindr has been sharing people's HIV statuses and test dates with two companies that help optimize the app, called Apptimize and Localytics, BuzzFeed reports.
"I hope that one small silver lining here will be that users and citizens will realize that there are enormous loopholes in the privacy regime", he said, "and that personal information is bought and sold freely on a global market".
Already, the dating app is facing a data privacy complaint in Europe, as the Norwegian Consumer Concil claims it has violated both European and Norwegian data privacy laws, reports CBS News. "Getting tested regularly for STDs, including HIV is one of the most important things a guy can do for his own health, and his partner's", while Jack Harrison-Quintana, the director of Grindr for Equality, expressed, "Grindr has always been committed to its users and the issues affecting the LGBTQ community at large". Under no circumstances does Localytics automatically collect a user's personal information, nor do we require personal information in order for our customers to get the benefits from using our platform.
Grindr insists its sole goal for sharing highly sensitive health information is an effort to better the app.