Dating Block: Grindr’s Chinese Owner Forced to Sell

By CultureBanx Team

  • Kunlun bought a majority stake in Grindr for $93M in 2016

  • Grindr has 27 million users worldwide

California-based company Grindr, the popular gay dating app with 27 million users worldwide has ruffled national security feathers. A U.S. government committee has pressured the platforms Chinese owner, Kunlun Tech to sell the app over national security concerns. Is the notion that a dating app could threaten national security misplaced?

Grindr.jpg

Why This Matters: With more than 3 million daily active users, Grindr keeps a lot of social data on them. The hookup app’s privacy policy notes they collect a wide range of personal data including location information, messages, and even HIV status if users choose to provide it. One of the most exposed groups is likely black gay and bisexual men, because in 2017 they accounted for the largest number of HIV diagnoses at 9,807, followed by Hispanic with 7,436 and whites at 6,982, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Herein lies the problem, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States stated Grindr has violated data protection laws. They claim the platform is sharing information on sexual preferences and HIV-status to third parties without proper consent and is forcing Kunlun to sell Grindr.

One of the most exposed groups is likely black gay and bisexual men, because they accounted for the largest number of HIV diagnoses at 9,807

CFIUS, the group that evaluates national security concerns of foreign investment in the U.S., intervening on the Grindr deal highlights its focus on the safety of personal data. Initially Kunlun bought a majority stake in the app for just $93 million in 2016, then the Chinese internet gaming company purchased Grindr outright in 2018.

Situational Awareness: In general the government is continuing to give a side-eye to Chinese investment in U.S. tech companies. Back in 2016, China invested $18.7 billion U.S. tech firms, that number dropped drastically in 2018 to $2.2 billion, perhaps due to heightened CFIUS scrutiny.

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