Some of the world’s most popular dating apps have been found to be sharing user’s personal data with thousands of advertising partners.
Data being shared includes information about a user’s location and their sexuality, according to a Norwegian consumer group study.
The study found dating apps such as Grindr, Tinder and OkCupid have been sharing personal information to around 100 other businesses.
A report by The Norwegian Consumer Council found social networking app for the LGBTQI+ community Grindr shares the GPS data, IP addresses, ages and genders of its users.
The study, funded by the government, found that sharing this data implicitly discloses users’ sexual orientation and in some cases, drug taking habits.
Tinder, the most downloaded data app in the world, has also been accused of sharing user data with at least 45 companies owned by the Match Group, while also sharing location and age of users with marketing firms.
OkCupid has been found to share information from users’ personal profiles relating to sexual orientation, drug use and political views with an analytics company.
Norway’s data protection commissioner Bjorn Erik Thon said in a statement that sharing location data for gay people, in particular, can be risky in certain “extreme circumstances”.
He said: “There are still some who do not want to be open about their orientation, and there are many countries in the world where being gay carries great risks.”
While the report covers Norway in particular, in the US, consumer groups have written to regulators asking them to look into whether the apps have broken any laws there.
“All of these apps are available to users in the US and many of the companies involved are headquartered in the US,” they wrote.
Tech giants have been increasingly scrutinized over data privacy issues followed the 2018 Cambridge Analytica scandal where tens of millions of Facebook profiles were harvested without users’ consent.