January 27, 2021 | Sex & Society

Norway fines Grindr $11M

GrindrGrindr has run afoul of the Norwegian government, resulting in a fine worth $11.7 million, which represents 10 percent of the company's European revenue. The Norwegian Data Protection Authority (NDPA) ruled on Monday that Grindr had illegally sold users’ personal information to third-party advertisers.

“Our preliminary conclusion is that Grindr has shared user data to a number of third parties without legal basis,” Bjørn Erik Thon, director-general of the NDPA, said. “Business models where users are pressured into giving consent, and where they are not properly informed about what they are consenting to, are not compliant with the law.”

Thon also pointed out that the hook-up app asked users to upgrade, at a cost, for better privacy protection, but such protections are already guaranteed to all users under EU privacy law. Furthermore, the data mining that was occurring potentially put at risk users in countries with anti-gay laws.

“If someone finds out that they are gay and knows their movements, they may be harmed,” Tobias Judin, who works at the Norwegian Data Protection Authority, 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.”

“This is a milestone in the ongoing work to ensure that consumers’ privacy is protected online,” Finn Myrstad, director of digital policy in the Norwegian Consumer Council, said in a statement. “The NDPA has clearly established that it is unacceptable for companies to collect and share personal data without user´s permission.”

Grindr countered that it had obtained “valid legal consent from all” of its users in Europe on multiple occasions, arguing that it offered "first-class" protections for user privacy.

“We continually enhance our privacy practices in consideration of evolving privacy laws and regulations, and look forward to entering into a productive dialogue with the Norwegian Data Protection Authority,” Bill Shafton, Grindr’s VP of business and legal affairs, claimed.

Grindr now has until February 15 to officially respond to the ruling before a final decision.

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