A new study by cyber security specialists in countries where homosexuality is illegal, found police are increasingly using queer dating apps to surveil and entrap LGBT+ people.
The reports author says the data that’s collected by advertisers across dating apps “can pretty much identify people’s daily routines,”
Researchers compared the data practices of Grindr, Scruff, Tinder, OKCupid and HER. All collect user data — including users’ exact location, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, political beliefs, drug use, and more — and share that data with at least 135 different third-party entities
Of those, just one app — Scruff — was singled out for praise for taking extra steps to protect user data.
The report provides a comprehensive list of instances of government surveillance and prosecution across the globe in recent years that relied on queer dating apps or forums. Police in Russia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Lebanon, Ghana, and other countries have identified and lured LGBT+ people by posing as potential romantic interests on dating apps.
in 2018, Grindr was shamed into stopping sharing HIV status of its users to advertisers.
Scruff anonymises users’ location, making it harder to track, and sends alerts when users are traveling to countries with anti-LGBT+ laws. Scruff is also the only of the five apps that has cut ties with third-party data brokers in favour of an in-house ad and analytics business.
Peter Tatchell, Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation, commented, “It is the responsibility of app operators to respect and protect their user’s privacy. Repressive regimes will continue to target, monitor and repress the LGBT+ community for as long as these apps allow them to get away with it. Data protection is the new frontier in human rights,”