The Norwegian Data Protection Authority said on Monday that it would fine Grindr, the world’s most popular gay dating app, 100 million Norwegian kroner, or about $11.7 million, for illegally disclosing private details about its users to advertising companies.
The agency said the app had transmitted users’ precise locations, user-tracking codes and the app’s name to at least five advertising companies, essentially tagging individuals as L.G.B.T.Q. without obtaining their explicit consent, in violation of European data protection law. Grindr shared users’ private details with, among other companies, MoPub, Twitter’s mobile advertising platform, which may in turn share data with more than 100 partners, according to the agency’s ruling.
Tobias Judin, head of the Norwegian Data Protection Authority’s international department, said Grindr’s data-mining practices not only violated European privacy rights but also could have put users at serious risk in countries, like Qatar and Pakistan, where consensual same-sex sexual acts are illegal.
“If someone finds out that they are gay and knows their movements, they may be harmed,” Mr. Judin said. “We’re trying to make these apps and services understand that this approach — not informing users, not gaining a valid consent to share their data — is completely unacceptable.”